Sports Nutrition – The Day Before Competition

Sports Nutrition – The Day Before Competition

Sports nutrition is not simply the day of competition or on training days. What should you do and eat the day BEFORE competition? As a followup to the post Game Day Nutrition – What Should Kids Eat?, we will look at your needs the previous day.

Factors Affecting Sports Nutrition Needs

What factors affect what you need to eat? The single largest factor is the type of activity that you are engaged in but the physique of the athlete will also come into play.

Soccer kickEndurance sports will require an athlete to be active for several hours of vigorous physical activity. The longer duration will require extra effort to remain alert even when you are tired. The glycogen stores in your liver that supply your body’s energy will need to be at their peak. Glucose levels will dictate how well your body responds to your event but will also affect your mental abilities as well. Sports involving short spurts of activity like sprinters in track and field or baseball, will not require as much dedication to building energy stores due to the decreased demand for energy as a whole. It is still a very good idea to eat well but sports nutrition requirements are very different.

Food Requirements

The most important sports nutrition areas are:

Protein – are important for your muscles to recover and to function properly

Carbohydrates – these will elevate your glycogen levels for the next day

Water – hydration is extremely important. You can not expect to just drink fluids the day of competition and expect to be fully hydrated. Lots of water will help cleanse your system (part of the recovery process).  Drinking lots of water for even a week before a competition will have your body working at its best. Avoid caffeine (coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks) which is known to drain the body of fluids.

Mental Preparation

YogaExperts agree that the day before competition is much more about the  preparation than it is about training for your sport or sports nutrition. Sports nutrition is only a small part of what you will be doing. I have had the pleasure of watching the practice the day before a game for a professional football team. They do not have a regular practice.  They will do a “walk through” instead which will take half the time of a normal practice. The intent is to relax the body and spend far more time in mental preparation than in physical preparation. The run through of the game plan and the specific plays that will be run is invaluable  – it is a form of mental imagery which all successful athletes use.  Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc have been known to say that they take every shot TWICE…once in their mind and then later for real during competition.

My post Mental Training for Athletes covers the details of a “Power Visualization” techniques used for mental preparation of athletes. The mind is a wonderful organ that can do marvelous things when challenged.



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