Soccer tournaments present unique demands on your body that require you to plan and prepare above and beyond what you normally would for a 90-minute game. Players have to be prepared to play three or more games in one day. The best way to prepare for extended play is to have a plan and know what you are up against.
Nutrition plays a key role in tournament performance. Too often, players feel flat after their first or second game, which not only impairs performance, but can also increase the likelihood of injury. Sticking to a tournament nutrition plan that will keep you fueled for performance will help you stay fast, fit and functional through the whole tournament.
Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist
- Have breakfast in the morning to get your body ready for the day. Focus on protein and whole grain carbohydrates to prep your body for action.
- If your first game is early in the morning, start small with a pre-game snack like granola and yogurt. Something is better than nothing.
- Pack simple snacks to eat during the tournament. Simple items like trail mix will help keep you ready to play.
- Have a post-game snack. Refueling from one game to the next is important to maintain performance and prevent injury. Focus on protein and carbohydrates. Liquid nutrition can be easier for athletes to consume straight after a game. Chocolate milk or a recovery shake are good options.
- Keep it simple. The best foods to consume during the tournament are foods you can quickly eat and then get ready to go. Stay away from fast food and heavy and fried foods like hamburgers and French fries. They will slow you down and could make you feel sick.
- Bring plenty of water! Performance is impaired after only 2 percent dehydration. One ounce per pound of body weight per day is a good marker for how much water you should drink. But remember, on game day, you will need more because you will be sweating.
- Sports drinks are good for long tournaments. They keep your body supplied with electrolytes. But don't forget that water is just as important to keep you hydrated.
- Don't try anything new on game day. Stick to what you know works best. If you want to experiment with new foods and drinks, try it during the week before the tournament so you will know how your body will react.
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