June 25th, 2017

Training Matters: Coaches have role to play in athlete nutrition


By Medicine Hat News on April 21, 2017.

I recently presented to female coaches from the Females in Action Moving and Empowering development program. The program focuses on building skills and confidence for new female coaches by pairing them up with an experienced coach who can provide some mentorship.

The cool thing about this program is that besides focusing on coaching skills they have also invited Alberta Sports Development Centre —Southeast to provide sessions on exercise physiology, mental skills and sports nutrition.

What I have learned is that coaches new or seasoned often have not had the opportunity to access this type of information to help support the training and performance of their athletes. Coaches can have a great influence on young athletes to support good sport nutrition strategies.

Here are three strategies all coaches can use to support their athletes to fuel their performance.

1. Support athletes to come to training or games hydrated.

Coaches do a great job of making sure athletes are taking plenty of water breaks during practices or games. But it is hydrating before game and competitions that athletes need the most support in.

Because kids are in school all day they are often showing up for practices or games already dehydrated. Coaches can stress the importance and remind athletes to drink fluids throughout the day while at school. Other strategies include encouraging athletes to bring a water bottle to school and fill it up throughout the day. Coaches can buddy athletes up with another player to help them keep each other accountable for drinking fluids.

2. Encourage recovery snacks and meals which contain carbohydrates and protein.

What an athlete eats after a game, sport or activity affects their performance in their next game the most. Their muscles need to refuel, repair and recover.

Athletes need to refuel their muscles with carbohydrates and repair and rebuild their muscles with protein. Eating a snack that contains carbohydrates and protein within 15 to 30 minutes will help athletes recover quickly so that they are ready to perform for the next competition whether it is later that day or the next day.

Coaches can encourage athletes to bring a recovery snack such as chocolate milk, yogurt and piece of fruit, cheese and crackers or trail mix to eat after a training session or game. Coaches can offer opportunities to eat a recovery snack during team meetings right after a game or as they are wrapping up a practice session in the gym or field.

Another strategy is to have a team recovery snack supplied to the whole team. A team manager can help organize using team funds or a schedule can be provided to rotate parents to provide a recovery snack.

3. Provide opportunities to eat well on the road.

Travelling can put a team at a disadvantage if they are not hydrating or eating well. Coaches can ensure they plan enough time for bathroom breaks during travel so that athletes can continue drinking fluids rather than limiting fluids. Coaches and managers can book rooms at a hotel that offer breakfast in the morning. Fruit, yogurt, cereal and milk, toast and peanut butter, eggs and pancakes are all great pre-game choices. Coaches can also research the area they are playing or staying at to be familiar with what type of food or restaurants are nearby if planning team meals.

Another strategy is to bring a team cooler with some fluids and recovery snacks. Chocolate milk, water, juice boxes, yougurt or yougurt tubes, granola bars, fruit, cheese, crackers, vegetables and trail mix are great grab and go snacks for in between games.

Kimberlee Brooks, RD, MSc, is a sport dietitian with the Alberta Sport Development Centre and can be reached at asdc@mhc.ab.ca.


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