Healthy nutrition is a critical part of your player’s development — both as a young person and as a young hockey player. Follow these tips to ensure your child is ready for practices and games.
Game Day Nutrition
On game day everything counts and athletes must eat well to perform at their highest level, on demand and from beginning to end.
- Drink water, not sugar drinks. It’s important for your child to day hydrated for practices and games, and water is generally the best choice. Avoid soda beverages and sport drinks that are full of sugar.
- Eat balanced meals. During the day, make sure your child eats from all the essential food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, meat substitutes, dairy, healthy fats). It’s not necessary to incorporate everything into each meal, but your child should eat some of these items each day.
Game Day Nutrition Challenges & Possible Solutions
- If a player has low energy and is losing mental focus they should be provided with fuel such as fresh fruit, a sport drink, unsweetened juice or a granola bar.
- Quality ingredients provide quality nutrition. Given the choice between processed flour or whole grains, choose whole grains. Rather than processed fruit snacks, eat whole fruits. In general, stick with unprocessed whole foods and avoid processed packaged items as much as possible.
Examples of Meals from Breakfast to Post-Game, Food to Avoid & Timing
- Eat carefully on the road. When possible, stop at a grocery store and eat fresh from the deli department, or create your own healthy meals with whole grain breads, meats, nuts, cheeses, vegetables, and fruit. If you know you will be eating at a restaurant, do some research ahead of time to find places that serve balanced meals and healthy food.
- Avoid fried foods and sugary sauces. Fried foods are difficult to digest in general, and they often feature unhealthy trans fats if you are eating at a restaurant or a concession. Similarly, many sauces and dressings from restaurants and stores are full of unhealthy sugars, hydrogenated oils, and chemical additives. Either reduce the serving portions of these sauces and dressings or create healthy alternatives at home using olive oil and natural ingredients.
COACHING HAPPENS ON AND OFF THE ICE, SO HOW DOES ONE COACH HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES?
Coaches have the ability to foster a culture of healthy eating within a team setting.
Depending on the age group of the athletes, parent involvement and buy-in to the healthy eating for sport may be needed. Coaches can provide athletes and their parents with resources that have pre- and post-hockey meal ideas.
These resources should also include reasoning behind consuming certain food or food groups, as this will help spark motivation to comply with the suggestions. Coaches can also work with parents to coordinate a tournament potluck. For example, coaches could lay out 10 different foods that should be consistently included in the potluck (e.g., fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, yogurts, sandwiches). Parents could then take turns bringing each food item and set up the items “buffet” style for the athletes during a tournament lunch break.
To encourage athlete hydration, coaches can also invest in a set of reusable team water bottles that are constantly refilled to ensure they are available to athletes before, during and after competing.
For tournaments held at your local facility, coaches can work with the local concessionaire to ensure healthy meals and snacks are available for the home and visiting teams. Talk with your coach about how healthful eating can be incorporated for the upcoming season.
Sports Nutrition for Youth - Alberta Health Services
Feeding Your Child Athlete - Kids Health
Coach’s Kitchen - coach.ca
6 Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes - Active Kids
10 Best Foods for Young Athletes - Jill Castle, Childhood Nutrition Expert
Game Day Nutrition for Youth Hockey Players - hockeytraining.com