Fueling Through Tournaments
Memorial Day Weekend signifies the unofficial start of summer thanks to the abundance of outdoor BBQs and open beaches. For soccer players, this weekend marks the start of long days full of tournaments. Energy needs are at an all-time high in order to fuel back to back games. What a soccer player eats during a tournament weekend will directly impact speed, strength, endurance, coordination, and recovery. Having a sound nutrition plan in place will give your team the competitive edge it needs to come out on top during a tournament.
Your Plan for Tournament Day:
* Eat a meal or snack 1-3 hours before games so that you are not running on empty
> 2/3 of your plate should consist of carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, fruit, cereal, rice, or crackers
> Carbohydrates should be lower in fiber when eaten closer to game time to avoid GI distress
> Protein aides in satiety, recovery, and injury prevention: include a small amount in the pre-game meal
> Fried foods should be avoided before soccer games: they will slow you down and directly impact speed, coordination, and agility
> When a player feels hungry or tired from the foods they ate, it takes away from focus on the game: don’t let this happen to you
* Have a hydration plan set in advance
> Aim for 16-20 oz water 2-3 hours prior to game time along with an additional 8oz 10-20 minutes before
> Drink on schedule during games: Aim for 6-8oz every 15-20 minutes
> Beverages containing electrolytes such as a sports drink (6-8% carbohydrate) are recommended for endurance activity lasting over one hour or during hot and humid weather
> It is possible to drink too much water or sports drinks: knowing your fluid needs will prevent you from overhydrating
* Make recovery a priority and always eat within 30 minutes of finishing each game
> This is the window where your body most efficiently replaces muscle glycogen and builds/repairs muscle
> Recovery snacks should be high in carbohydrate and contain some protein
> Liquids are always an option if an athlete is not hungry
> Foods containing fluids (grapes, oranges, melon) and salt (pretzels, salted nuts) also aide in hydration and electrolyte replacement
> Eat every 2 hours or so to continue recovery: your body is still breaking down glycogen and repairing muscle
> Include a PM snack to top off glycogen stores before going to bed
Below is a sample meal plan for a 150lb soccer player during a tournament weekend. This player has 3 games on day 1 as and two more lined up for the next day. Remember that everyone has different calorie and nutrient needs, and that this is just an example. Athletes have different sweat rates, so the hydration plan may vary as well.
Breakfast: (2 hours before game)
English muffin breakfast sandwich made with one scrambled egg and 1 slice reduced fat cheese. Serve with 1 cup cooked oatmeal – top with 1 Tbsp brown sugar and ¼ cup raisins or dried fruit
Sip 16-20oz cool water
Game 1 Hydration Plan: Drink on schedule: 6-8oz of fluid (6-8 gulps) every 15-20 minutes. Fluids should consist of 24-32 oz of water per hour and 8-10 oz of a sports drink during the course of the game. Hydration should be consistent and stream-like rather than all at once.
Game 1 Recovery: (immediately after finishing first game, this player has about 30 minutes until the start of the next game)
Serving of salted pretzels with 1 cup of cubed watermelon
Sip 8-10 oz cool water
Game 2 Hydration Plan: Fluids should be taken in at a rate of 24-32 oz of fluid per hour. This will consist of water and about 20oz of a sports drink (spaced out throughout the game). Aim for 6-8 gulps every 15-20 minutes.
Game 2 Recovery: (immediately after finishing second game, this player has 90 minutes until the next game begins)
Cliff bar with a serving of saltine crackers
Sip 16-24oz cool water
Game 3 Hydration Plan: Fluids should be taken in at a rate of 24-32 oz of fluid per hour. This will consist of water and about 20oz of a sports drink (spaced out throughout the game). Aim for 6-8 gulps every 15-20 minutes.
Game 3 Recovery: (within 30 minutes of finishing last game)
PB&J roll up: Whole grain wrap filled with 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp jelly and a sliced banana (roll up into a wrap). Serve with 8oz low fat chocolate milk
Sip 16-24oz cool water
Turkey sandwich on a whole grain roll with mustard, teaspoon of mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Add a side of baby carrots with a mini hummus cup and a serving of baked pita chips.
Sip 16-24oz water
1 cup brown rice with 3 oz salmon and a medium baked or sweet potato. Serve with a side of spinach sautéed in 1 Tbsp oliveoil and garlic
Sip 16-24oz water
Yogurt “sundae”: 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt topped with ¼ cup granola, ¼ c berries and 1 oz crushed dark chocolate
Sip 8 oz water