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Captains' Tips of the Week: Pre-Match Nutrition

December 9, 2011 03:20 PM
No matter how much time you have before your match, try to pre-hydrate with several cups of fluids like water, sports drinks or decaffeinated beverages.
"Captain's Tips of the Week," USTA.com’s new special feature for USTA League Captains, will give you a list of helpful pointers ranging from on-court strategy to mental preparation. These tips will jumpstart your team towards a successful season.

This week, we focus on proper eating habits for your team before a match - the right carbs, proper protein intake and when they should be consumed. Of course, there's a flip side to that equation, so we'll also mark which foods and beverages can be detrimental to your performance on the court.
 
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  • Pre-match dietary choices should be higher in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in dietary fat to allow quick digestion and absorption out of the stomach. The more time you have before a match, the larger the meal that can be tolerated. For example, if you have 3-4 hours before you play, a normal sized sandwich like a turkey sub would be appropriate, even with a fruit and/or dairy side. No matter how much time you have before your match, try to pre-hydrate with several cups of fluids like water, sports drinks or decaffeinated beverages. If you only have 1-2 hours before matches, the volume, protein, and fat content of the meal will need to be limited. An appropriate choice with this timing limitation might be 2 tbsp of peanut butter on a bagel or a PowerBar with a piece of fruit.
  • As far as the time element, wait at least a half hour after eating a heavy meal to start playing. It varies from person to person – some may need more like an hour – but the general rule of thumb is one-half hour. If you're just snacking, 15 minutes should suffice, and it might also be a great idea to keep energy bars and bananas or oranges on hand to give you an added boost during your match. And most importantly, stay well-hydrated!
  • Make sure to follow up your match by eating some healthy protein. You've got to jump start those muscles into repair.
  • Stay away from alcohol, caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc.). If you are taking a prescribed diuretic, drink even more water.
  • For a diabetic player, check blood sugar levels early and often during match breaks, with plenty of juice and snacks at your disposal along with an Epi-pen. Above all, consult with your physician to determine further precautions before stepping foot on a court.
 

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