The week leading up to a batch of hockey games is crucial to a player’s performance. This isn’t exclusive to hockey - too often athletes across all sports put too much emphasis on the last meal before a game while ignoring the effects of their diet from the previous few days.
This is the eighth post in the In-Season Nutrition Guide for Minor Hockey Players.
The aspect of travel adds a whole new dimension. There are always issues that come up on the road that are difficult to predict.
Understanding that your body and brain are going to be called on to perform at an intense clip for a few days, here are a few guidelines to keep your engine running throughout a difficult schedule on the road.
One simple key is to eat properly whenever you get a chance, because you might not always get that chance. Before a game, if you have sufficient time (2-3 hours), drink fluids constantly, even when you aren’t thirsty. Eat high carb, low fat meals with vegetables, lean protein and fruits when events are separated by more than 3 hours.
Less than 3 hours:
Eat easily digestible high-carb snacks like multigrain bagels, low fat yogurt and fruits and fluids. Less than an hour between games? Break out the gatorade.
If possible, try to follow the same guidelines with regards to timing, amount of food and composition of meals.
However, we all know that being on the road makes it difficult to stick to a strict diet. Right?
Just remember, the athlete is always in control of what goes into the athlete’s body.
When you’re at a restaurant…
Choose: Instead of:
Bagels or low fat muffin donuts or croissants
grilled chicken sandwich burgers or fried foods
milk or juice pop
salad (with little dressing) French fries, onion rings, potatoes
pasta with tomato sauce pasta with cream sauce
turkey, grilled chicken or meatball or salami sub, veggie sub
frozen yogurt with fruit pies or cake (sorry guys)
Buying food from a restaurant might be the easiest option to coordinate on the road, but it’s probably not the most beneficial. Not only are restaurants relatively more expensive, they limit the options an athlete needs to be productive on the ice.
Now, team dinners at a restaurant are a great experience for the athletes (even if they’re a nightmare for the servers), but eating at a restaurant for every meal will severely eat into your downtime.
Try picking up food for breakfast from a grocery store. You can make a quick run after you drop your son or daughter off at the rink before game time. Bottled water, gatorade and snacks will be needed when the athlete isn’t playing, so make sure you’re stocked up.
The point of hockey tournaments is to have an enjoyable, challenging experience.
…Which is a fancy way to say fun. Just understand that you paid the bill for the gas, the hotel and the entry fee, so help go the extra mile to ensure your child gets the most out of the tournament possible by fuelling them up properly.