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A hockey player with the University of Alberta Golden Bears men's hockey team.

The Cause & Effect of Enhanced Nutrition for Hockey Players

10/22/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

No excuses. Feed your child properly this hockey season.


Something is off. 

You don’t have the energy you should. You’re not quite as strong as you should be. You get tired quickly and you can’t concentrate.

As adults, we believe that these issues are ours alone, and that our kids don’t suffer from fatigue, stress and decreased performance. 

This is part 4 of the North Shore Winter Club’s 10-post series, The Minor Hockey Player’s Guide to In-SeasonTraining, Nutrition & Wellness.

Read part 1.

Read part 2.

Read part 3.

They’re kids, right? They have energy to burn! When they’re at home they tear around the house for hours without actually accomplishing anything useful!

Just like a parent is never going to be able to perfectly guide the energy of their child, a coach will never be able to perfectly guide the energy of his players. We can, however, create a foundation for young hockey players, a path to follow when it comes to everything they do away from the rink.

1. The Balanced Diet

Hockey can teach us about a lot more than just shooting, breakouts and goal-scoring. Using hockey to learn about how the body works at a young age can go a long way toward building lifelong eating habits.

An unbalanced diet built specifically for a busy young hockey player can have disastrous effects on the body:

  • fatigue
  • illness
  • stunted bone growth and maintenance
  • improper muscle growth

Protein intake vs energy output is critical for proper bone and muscle growth. Timing meals properly and eating proper meals on time can result in a big performance spike on the ice, at home and at school.

2. Performance

Eating a balanced diet is vital to an athlete’s on-ice performance. We know this. The next time your child’s performance in a game looks lower than average, instead of blaming their focus, their intensity, their passion or the coach’s decisions, consider their diet first.

A poor diet wastes a hockey player’s skill. A poor diet:

  • prevents athletes from using the results of their workout in games
  • diminishes the strength and skill necessary to play
  • diminishes energy and endurance to power through games, practices and a hectic schedule

3. The Key to Recovery

Recovery can be broken into plenty of different forms throughout the hockey season (as well as the offseason). A balanced diet allows the muscles to recover quickly after games and practices, which is an instant advantage over the competition (unless the competition is also reading these articles).

Illness and fatigue are also warded off by a good diet, which we know is often a factor during a busy hockey season spent in tight quarters with 15 other people. Keeping hydrated and replenishing nutrients during and after games strengthens the immune system and keeps athletes on the ice.

The other major recovery element is the event of injury.

It’s going to happen. Hockey players get injured. They’re slicing through a rock-hard frozen surface at 100 miles an hour on 5 millimetre-thick blades of steel wielding 4 foot tall sticks made of medal while 6 opponents and 5 teammates battle for a 3-inch thick slice of vulcanized rubber. 

So yeah, injuries will happen. Sometimes it happens when you’re standing in line waiting for a drill to start.

With minor injuries such as muscles strains and joint sprains, proper nutritional balance will help an athlete get into the recovery room quicker so they can get back on the ice quicker. 

Good Nutrition is Black & White

Eat better, perform better. It's that simple. 

Healthy eating is a tool in a hockey player’s arsenal. It’s an element a hockey player can control, which we know is all that really matters. Many parents shrug off unhealthy foods because their children are doing so much activity and working so hard. This is wrong. A child needs better food because of their workload.

So, this season, let’s arm our players with energy, strength and endurance.

photo credit: Don Voaklander via photopin cc

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