I once had a teammate* who used to eat 2 cans of alphagetti before every game.
“An old trainer of mine said the pasta is Swedish,” he boasted, as though he had stumbled upon the greatest secret ever kept.
The truth of the matter was that this player once slept through a pre-game team meal, so he downed the sauced-drenched letters a couple hours before the game.
He scored a hat trick that night, by far his most potent offensive outburst of the season. And thus, a ritual was born.**
One of the keys to pre-game meals is to pay attention to the body’s digestion habits. Digestion is slowed by a heightened emotional state, so eating heavy meals too close to a game, especially if it’s an important one, can cause a sluggish start. Heavy foods like steak can slow a player’s body and mind down, so it’s important to stick to a routine that works.
Here’s a few options for a light, digestible meal that’s high in carbohydrates and calories.
One pre-game meal isn’t enough. As we’ve learned, a hockey player’s body requires sufficient energy stores to keep running at optimum levels late in a game or practice. I was told by a respected coach a few weeks ago that hockey players should only really be asked to practice at a fast pace for 35 - 40 minutes.
I don’t buy it.
I think hockey players just don’t do a good enough job keeping themselves fuelled throughout the day. Eating healthy choices throughout the day will give an athlete the fuel he or she needs to perform for at least an hour.
Game Day Do’s:
Game Day Do Not’s:
“Just pound a can of alphagetti an hour before warmup and you’re good to go.”
What a fool, that teammate of mine. Good thing I don’t have to listen to him anymore.
Anyways, a serious hockey player at any age needs to eat a substantial meal 2-3 hours before a game. The best foods that are those that are easily tolerated by the digestive system and familiar.
Bananas, oatmeal muffins, whole grain crackers and pita bread are all foods that easy on the stomach and provide a slow-burning energy throughout the day and into the game.
Game day is a sacred ritual. Hockey players wake up with the game on their mind, they think about the game instead of concentrating in school and they race home to prepare.
Supplementing that routine with a full day of energy building will have gigantic effects on a player’s performance.
Here’s an easy-to-follow game day diet.
*Yes, the teammate is me.
*No, there was no ritual born, as I did this once and got incredible gut-rot on the bench before literally falling asleep on the bench in the 3rd period. And no, it was not because I played a lot.