Athletes and Asthma

As youth shift to winter sports, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is encouraging community coaches in Minnesota to support their young athletes with asthma by taking a new online training course.

The Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL) has already joined with MDH and is having its coaches take the course Athletes and Asthma: The Community Coach’s Role, now live on the MDH’s website. 

"We encourage anyone who works with youth or children to learn the signs and symptoms of asthma,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "We want to thank community organizations like the ski league for their efforts to ensure all Minnesota children can have fun and receive the benefits of physical activity and recreation through youth sports.” 

The Minnesota Youth Ski League welcomes the opportunity to incorporate the asthma training into our coaches education program. We consider asthma a very important topic in youth recreation and sports and are happy to educate our volunteer coaches and parents to make sure all of our skiers enjoy winter. 

The 35-minute interactive online course, developed with expertise from MDH Asthma staff, provides information and resources for the community coach using animation, video and interactive scenarios. Based on its predecessor, The Coach's Asthma Clipboard Program, coaches learn how to help players of all ages (K-12) who have asthma, play to their full potential through scenarios that mimic the real-life decisions they face during practices and competitive events. 

Minnesota middle and high school students with asthma participate in club, community and school sports at about the same rate of 56 percent, as children without asthma, according the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey. If not well controlled, asthma can prevent youth athletes from participating in sports and other normal everyday activities. While asthma is a chronic disease, it can be controlled by working with a health care provider and learning which medicines to take, when to take them, how to use asthma inhalers correctly, and to identify what asthma triggers cause symptoms to flare up.

Coaches who take the training course will learn:  

  • Basic anatomy-physiology of asthma
  • Myths vs. facts about asthma
  • Symptoms of asthma or an asthma attack
  • The coach’s role in helping players control their asthma
  • Rescue vs. control asthma medications (inhalers)
  • How to prevent or treat asthma symptoms
  • How to identify triggers of asthma
  • What to do during an asthma attack
  • Suggestions for working with parents and players
  • A 10-question quiz to see what you learned and a certificate of completion you can print.

SkiSparks Curriculum

SkiSparks Curriculum found here

Winter Clothing Tips

As parents, we all make mistakes, but with our limited skiing days (remember, winter is short), it’s important to put some effort into making sure our kids are having the best experience possible. Cold feet and hands are the most common problem for young skiers. Use this checklist for success: 

  • Dry socks A dry pair of socks needs to be put on right before you put on your boots. This makes a big difference.
  • Wool socks No cotton, no blends. Really. I mean it.
  • Dry boots Boots need to be dried out near a heat source between uses. They can’t stay in the car or garage.
  • No updrafts Cold hands can often mean your body is too cool. Make sure jackets are not too big and billowy. To stop drafts, stuff jackets into pants, tighten drawstrings, or wear a drink belt.
  • Put on a hat (and a neck gator) We all know we lose a lot of heat through our heads. But making sure your ears and neck are covered is just as important. I’m not sure how we used to survive without neck gators, because they seem like a necessity now.
  • Good gloves Good ski gloves/mittens are an investment and can only be found at ski retailers, but they are worth it. Keeping track of these should be in your job description.
  • Hand/Foot warmers I only use these when I have to, but I’m usually very glad I have a few in my pocket. These are oxygen activated and you can "turn them off” by putting them in an airtight container. I get about three uses out of each pack.
  • Lose the poles Let go of that cold plastic grip and your fingers will be surrounded by the uncompressed insulation of your gloves. Skiing without poles also forces you to swing your arms, getting blood out to the tips of the fingers.
  • Calories A skier that is low on calories will have a hard time staying warm. Bringing back up snacks and drinks is always a good idea.
  • Get into the woods Wind is a big deal. If there is any breeze at all, you will have a harder time getting and staying warm. You can alleviate this effect by getting into a wooded section of ski trail as soon as you can. It is well worth checking wind speed and direction when planning your clothing and your first few moves on the snow.
  • Ski when its warm If its sunny and above 25 degrees, your kids will have a good time. So, on those rare days in the Midwest when its warm and you can ski when the sun in high, drop everything and get outside. You won’t regret it. And don’t forget about those precious weeks of spring skiing in late February and early March. These are often the highlight of the winter.