Fueling for Tryouts
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Hockey tryouts start tomorrow... what should I feed my athlete so they're ready for the next two days? Substitute game or tournament for tryouts and I can't even count the number of times I hear this question. Fuel is the after thought.
We know that strength and skill require consistent practice and training... so why wait until the day of to think about how to fuel?
Nutrition is cumulative. One meal won't make or break overall endurance, speed, strength, or recovery.
But... consistency will have a major effect on all of them.
You likely don't need me to tell you that a burger, fries, or pizza pre-tryout/game/practice meal probably won't help any athlete perform their best. Fatigue, bloating, cramping, and energy waves will probably hit sometime before the end of the first period.
Yet, carb-loading isn't effective for teens. And, overloading on protein will have negative effects on their energy and recovery too.
Yikes. Now what?
Ultimately, fuel consistency starts weeks- if not months- before tryouts and games... especially if improved endurance, strength, focus, and recovery are goals.
What if time isn't on your side and tryouts are here now?
Don't drastically change anything!
This isn't the time to introduce new foods. Instead, focus on whole foods they already like:
turkey or peanut butter sandwhich
baked regular or sweet potatoes
Avoid pop, pizza, burgers, fries, and fried foods at least four hours prior to tryout times... the whole day and day prior if possible.
"Eating healthy" doesn't necessarily mean that athletes are consuming enough nutrients for performance, growth, and recovery. It also doesn't mean eating only salads and vegetables and forever avoiding burgers and fries.
Every athlete's nutritional needs are different- even for the same athlete they vary based on activity and duration.
If athletes are training to take their game to the next level, improve their performance, or simply because they love the game and want to play their best... attention to their plate is equally (if not more!) important than the gear they require. You can't maximize the potential of new skates or sticks if you aren't fueled for the power.