From an outsider looking in, it seems for many sports clubs and teams around the country coaching sessions nowadays are more effectively and efficiently structured, planned and carried out. With much more emphasis on set play rehearsals, real game scenarios and well thought out drills, cardio vascular training, conditioning and flexibility. Appropriate match day nutrition and hydration, however, for many, still seems to be a little behind the times. How many of you are still “re-fuelling” solely on a very heavily endorsed and incredibly well marketed (at the time) isotonic drink that “keeps you going 33% longer?” (I lived on the stuff through college – it is Very tasty!)
Getting your nutrition right on match day alone will not make up for poor nutrition in the lead up to the match. Pre-match day (days leading up to a match) eating habits along with adequate hydration are key. Here’s what you should consider around match day and (pre-match) nutrition and hydration:
- Water intake. Don’t over-do it. Drinking too much water is a genuine concern. Over-consumption can cause the dilution of salt in your blood. Approx. 50-60mls per Kg of body-weight is an accurate guideline.
- With match day nutrition in mind, your nutrition focus needs to begin in the days leading up to the day of the event. Low GI carbohydrates are a good start. The usual go-to’s won’t see you wrong here – oats, whole grains, rice, pastas etc. Their role is to ensure adequate levels of muscle glycogen are achieved. The idea being that while training is tapered down the closer you get to match day, the muscle and liver glycogen is saturated. In turn, ensuring above adequate “fuel”/ energy levels on match day.
- Nutrition for recovery after a match or an event is equally as important. Never skip eating post-match to go analyse your performance or meet the team for a drink. By all means do them, but eat first!! Always, eat first! Think easily digestible and foods the body can quickly absorb. Fruit – Cereals – Flavoured milk/juice.
- The morning of the game. Anticipation is in full swing. Nerves are present. Regardless, you MUST eat. Easily digestible foods. Work back from the start of the game to plan when you will eat. Give Plenty time for digestion. Oats – Muesli – Fruit work well.
- For a late throw-in/kick off. Take a similar approach, working back from the start of the match to plan what and when you’ll eat. Don’t leave it to chance. Preparation is key. Earlier meals can be high carb, medium-low fat, medium protein. As you get closer to match time, final meal pre-match, introduce easily digestible foods again. Fruit – Rice cakes
Like anything diet/nutrition related, individual preference and taste accounts for 100% of your food choices. The above is set out just as a guide to follow or to adapt incorporating your own food choices and preferences, likes and dislikes.