December's Athlete of the Month is GB's Judo star Zack Wake.We caught up with Zack to delve a little deeper into his routine, strategies and goals for the near future. Interestingly Zack was one of the first customers Youth Sport Nutrition ever had! So alongside his advice, we found out exactly what the Wake Family thought about PROTEEN®.
How did you get into your first sport, and how old were you?
Z: When I was 5 I went to a Judo class at Kin Ryu Judo Club with a friend as he didn’t want to go by himself. I loved it and carried on, he didn’t enjoy it and never went again!
Photo of Zack at his first competition aged 5.
Did you have any key idols or role models that you looked up to and wanted to replicate, and if so, why?
Z: When I was younger I did a project about Judo at primary school where I wrote about my idols Ilias Iliadis and Teddy Riner. I thought they were ‘Awesome fighters’ then and still do now. I had the privilege of attending a masterclass with Iliadis this year and meeting him afterwards, he was amazing to work with.
How do you cater for your sports nutrition? What sort of meal plans/nutritional strategies did you utilise?
Z: I have a PROTEEN® drink daily after training, whether it is Judo, Football or Gym. I have a high protein, low fat diet and eat healthily in general.
Let downs and injury are a common feature of being a professional athlete, can you tell us how you motivate yourself and what keeps you going through major incidents or tough circumstances?
Z: I have been lucky enough not to have any major injuries (so far!), and I tend to strap up and get on with it when having a minor injury. I think of Gemma Gibbons in the London 2012 Olympic Judo final where she fractured her finger but then won a silver medal. If she can do that, then surely I can do that!
Photo of Zack at the British Championships.
What advise would you offer to youth athletes facing similar obstacles? What tools, tactics or strategies do you use to combat adversity? Any recommendations?
Z: I would tell them to do it for yourself, enjoy it, and make friends and not enemies along the way.
As a very successful youth athlete, how often do you train, and how has this changed depending on your sport?
Z: I train 3 times a week, 2 hours each time, sometimes more if we have a weekend session for the Sussex / Southern Area squad. I train at a much higher level now, sometimes with senior members of the club for their experience and strength.
Photo of Zack in training.
How do you stay healthy? Any Nutrition Tips?
Z: It’s important to look at everything you eat with a sensible view. Stop ‘bad’ snacking, eat regular meals etc. But at the same time when growing up, enjoy what you eat and don’t get obsessed with it.
What does it feel like to win competitions? Describe the emotion and senses involved during and afterwards.
Z: When you win a fight, it’s a huge sense of relief, you feel that everything to have worked for has paid off. When you throw a perfect Ippon, it’s amazing.
What are your future aspirations?
Z: I am at the stage now where I need to make some decisions about my future and what I will do after GCSEs. I would like to do A-level Sport and Physical Education & Sports Leadership with the idea of becoming a Personal Trainer either linked to Judo or other sports. As for the near future, aside from training hard, I will be doing my BJA Level 1 coaching exams in a few months.
What is your favorite quote or inspirational quote? Or perhaps you like your own made up quote? What is it?
Z: The people who say “You can’t” and “You won’t”, are probably scared that “You will”.
I have had quite a few barriers in my Judo career with people dragging me down, yet I am proving them wrong.
Who is your favorite athlete or sportsperson and why?
Z: Ilias Iliadis, for the reasons mentioned above.
What does your ‘internal chatter’ look/sound like in the run up to your event time. What strategies do you use to calm nerves and remain focused.
Z: I seem to be quite good at clearing my head and focusing on the job in hand. I can set my mind to things quite easily. Relax, breathe, enjoy.
What advise would you offer to parents of youth athletes regarding their training, the pressure to perform (academic and sporting) and catering for nutrition? How can parent’s best support their training objectives?
Z: Make sure you talk to your children about what THEY want out of their sport, do not pressurize even if you think they will become World Champion, as it could drive them away. It has to be fun.
Any tips for balancing training, academic studies, competitions/games and a social life?
Z: You need to understand what is important at that particular time and work on it. Friends are really important so plan and organize your social life around it. However, missing a training session is not the end of the world, you can make up for that.
Photo of Zack at the Sussex Trials.
What are your objective thoughts on Youth Sport Nutrition designing PROTEEN®, the first safe supplement for high level youth athletes to support their recovery post training/match?
Z: I felt that it was designed for my age group and therefore catered for my needs as a teen. It did help me as the results of the 6 month trial suggests. I completed all my aims. It’s a good idea, branded well and tastes nice!
As one of TeamYSN's very first customers, we thought it would be a good idea to get some impartial feedback from both Zack and his mum, to see how much PROTEEN® helped them on the journey into professional sport. Please see the below infographic, for a summary of what we discovered in just six months.
6 Month Analysis:
What are your thoughts on using sports supplements, do they have a place in elite sport and how do you avoid compromising anti-doping regulations? What safe practices can parents or youth athletes take to ensure their safety and compliance?
Z: I do not see any issues with using a sport supplement as long as it is in a sensible and controlled way. Read and comply by instructions on the items and also look at the ingredients to ensure it is safe. The BJA have clear guidelines and rules around this but I have not yet been in a position where I need to worry about them.
I would just like to add that I strongly feel Judo should be recognized for the fun sport it is.
It has made me physically and mentally stronger and given me a confidence socially. I have visited all sorts of countries and places I would never have been to, and experienced all sorts of situations. Through Judo, I have learnt many life skills in discipline, to act maturely and how to deal with losses. It will help mould me into the successful man I intend to become!
Zack, receiving his Black Belt!
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Just as your youth athlete will need to fuel well to stay healthy, the same goes for parents too. Ensuring you eat a healthy and balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels high, so you’re better equipped to handle the stress and challenges that life throws at you.