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Junior Sport: Tips and Advice (What to eat and drink on game day?)

Match Preparation

  • Ideally, an easily digested high-carbohydrate meal should be eaten between 2-4 hours before a match. Breakfast cereal with fruit, pasta with a tomato-based sauce, bread rolls or sandwiches, baked potatoes with low fat fillings and fruit salad with yoghurt are all good options.
  • Don’t forget to include an adequate amount of fluid with this meal. It is important to experiment and find food and fluid choices that are familiar and enjoyable to you, but don’t leave it until game day to try something new.
  • Many clubs like to organise the pre-game meal as a team activity, especially when they travel to an ‘away’ game. Eating together can be a good way to raise team morale and get focused on the match, as well as making sure that all players are well-fuelled.

Match Considerations: Fuel and Fluid

  • Football matches place reasonable demands on both fluid and carbohydrate stores of players. Studies have reported low muscle glycogen levels in players after a match – sometimes with significant depletion occurring by half-time.
  • Players with depleted muscle glycogen stores had a lower average speed and covered less ground than their team-mates in the second half of the match. Studies show that strategies to increase carbohydrate supplies – both eating a high carbohydrate diet in the days before a match and drinking carbohydrate-containing fluid such as sports drink during the match, keep players running faster and further in the second half.
  • In another study, high carbohydrate eating/drinking tactics helped the players to make fewer errors.
  • Sweat losses of 1.0 – 2.5 litres over a 90-minute game in cool conditions and approximately four litres during hot conditions have been reported in some studies. However, the reported fluid intake of players is typically less than half of the sweat rate.

Tips for better drinking during football:

  • Drink small amounts regularly during warm-up and half time breaks.
  • In hot weather especially, be creative in finding ways to grab a drink during halves. Some players leave their bottles around the side of the field and dash for a drink whenever there’s a stoppage in play.
  • Drink some sports drink that encourage better fluid intake because of their taste, as well as supplying extra fuel for the match.
  • Use pre- and post-weighing activities to monitor fluid losses over the game and try to keep these under 1kg.
  • Practise good drinking habits in training sessions.

Post-Match Recovery

  • A team approach to recovery is the best way to ensure all players refuel and rehydrate immediately after matches. Organise to have suitable drinks and snacks available after the match so that everyone can enjoy the benefits.
  • A post-match spread of sandwiches, soup, fruit and carbohydrate-containing drinks (e.g. low-fat flavoured milk, fruit juice) at the club or a box of supplies in the bus on the way back from ‘away’ matches can get recovery off to a good start.

*Document sourced from AIS Fact Sheets. For further information please see AIS website.

Please note: this information should serve as a guide only. When in doubt always seek advice from Southside Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre or your GP.

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