Keeping on track with health and nutrition is imperative to football fitness. Young players should be given the correct information and advice to ensure they are physically and mentally healthy enough to play their best game – enjoy it, and keep improving. We’ve filtered through the overwhelming information out there to bring you four simple but essential tips that will help young players stay fit and healthy.
Health and nutrition in sports can sometimes feel very confusing. Social media has a high impact on young football players’ lives. Seeing their favourite football star dining in restaurants, eating luxurious foods, or even indulging in fast food, can negatively influence the diet they believe they need to be mirroring. We share a few ideas with Alliance Football Club athletes and parents to best prepare and recover our players.
1. Before Training / Match
Professional Athletes will start to build up their carbohydrate stores days before their game to ensure they maximise their energy reserve ready for game day. They also maintain good Hydration throughout the week helping their bodies be in the best possible state come game day. The pre-match meal should be eaten at least three hours before kick-off and should contain complex carbohydrates. Carbs should be predominantly in the form of whole grains such as wholemeal bread, pasta, potatoes and brown rice. Fruit is a good choice too!
Saturated fat intake should be reduced in most cases i.e., full fat milk, cheese, pastries, cookies, pies, and fast food before playing or training. Fat should not be removed from the diet completely, which some people do follow strictly. However, good fats are essential and are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish such as mackerel.
Small amounts of protein are also crucial in this meal, but not the main priority like carbohydrates. Protein chosen before a game should be easily digestible with little fat so it should come in the form of lean meat or even skimmed yoghurts.
2. During Training / Match
As the minutes of a training session or match go by, the body will be using up the energy stored from previous meals and, naturally, the body will start to fatigue. When this happens, there is a decrease in the effectiveness and execution of technical and tactical movements. Players’ performances will begin to decline. Therefore snacks at halftime are essential. These typically come in the form of bananas and oranges to help replenish the stores and give the players the boost needed to return to play.
3. Post Training / Match
Protein intake is crucial for anyone involved in continuous high-intensity training like most of our Alliance Players. Protein is essential for the growth and repair of skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. For footballers, it is essential to start their recovery process after each session or game to help as much as possible for their muscles and body to repair. Protein should come from lean meats, poultry, fish, pulses, beans and nuts.
Following a demanding training programme, it increases the body’s need for energy. Sometimes footballers, especially youth athletes, will require extra meals or nutritious snacks. These should be eaten to provide enough fuel during strenuous conditioning periods, but not all the time.
Lastly, Hydration is important in everyday life, and it’s even more important for the participation of young athletes. Footballers should stay hydrated to be able to reach peak performance levels. Being dehydrated can result in everything from headaches to low energy, muscle pain, and other ailments that can affect your health. Professional athletes will sometimes consume up to 2L of water per game! Therefore, be in charge of your own water consumption. Use your Alliance Water Bottles as a guide to help you keep hydrated and ensure you are drinking enough water to maintain your high-level performance.