Powerful Pre-Game Meals: What to Eat Before a Youth Sports Game

Want to maximize your young athlete’s performance on game day? It all starts with fueling their body right before the big event. Discover the power of pre-game meals and learn what to eat to help your young athlete excel on the field, court, or track!

To perform their best in competitions, young athletes need the right kind of fuel. Before a game, it’s important for them to consume complex carbohydrates, which provide long-lasting energy, and protein, which helps keep their blood sugar and energy levels stable. It’s best to avoid consuming too much fat before exercising because it can slow down digestion, possibly leading to an upset stomach during the competition. Then of course, we have to have fluid for hydration!

Getting the timing of your young athlete’s meals right before a sports event can make a big difference in their performance. By following a smart meal schedule, you can provide them with the energy they need to excel. Let’s explore the pre-game meal timeline and discover what delicious options will help them perform their best.

3-4 Hours Prior to Competition: The Power of Larger Meals

This is the time for a satisfying meal! Encourage your young athlete to enjoy a larger meal that includes protein-rich foods such as meats like beef or chicken, along with complex carbohydrates from sources like pasta, rice, and bread. This combination provides long-lasting energy and important nutrients to keep them going strong. It’s also important to include fruit and easy-to-digest vegetables, and be sure athletes are consuming 16-20 ounces of water or a sports drink with their pre-game meal.

1- 2 Hours Prior to the Event: Smaller Balanced Snack

As the competition draws closer, it’s time for a smaller snack. Beef jerky and a banana, peanut butter crackers, cheese with whole grain crackers and fruit, or a protein bar and fruit are all fantastic options for a boost of nutrients and energy.

At this point, have athletes check their urine color to assess their hydration status. Pale yellow to clear likely means hydrated, but urine that is apple juice colored are darker means get to hydrating. All athletes should continually be sipping on fluids leading up to a game or event, but a dark urine color indicates the need to drink more.

30 Minutes Prior to Competition: Snack Smart for a Quick Boost

If your athletes need an extra boost of energy, try fruit, a granola bar, or some crackers with another 5-10 ounces of water or sports drink to top off their energy tank!

Encourage your young athlete to prioritize hydration by drinking water regularly throughout the day, considering electrolyte-rich beverages like sports drinks or electrolyte additions to water as they get closer to the sporting event. By emphasizing the importance of hydration and incorporating these simple tips, you can help ensure that your young athlete starts the competition well-hydrated and ready to perform at their best. Follow these meal timing guidelines and hydration tips, and you set your young athletes up to be well-fueled and ready to give their best performance. Let’s set them up for success on the field, court, course, and track!