Hockey Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Hockey Players
To be successful, hockey players require a combination of several key athletic attributes including endurance, strength, speed, agility, tactics and ball skills.
To achieve all this, hockey training needs to be physically very demanding, and therefore a huge amount of energy, usually derived from carbohydrate is required.
A diet rich in carbohydrate foods is therefore important in providing sufficient energy levels to developing an optimum standard of play as well as assisting athlete recovery.
Currently hockey is not a professional sport so most players, even at an elite level will have full-time jobs or be studying, so it is often not easy fitting in training and matches, and even more difficult to make sure that good nutrition habits are sustained.
Sometimes takeaway foods such as pizzas, curries, burgers and chips seem like the only option, but learning how to select those foods which are nutritionally more beneficial can often mean the difference between the success and failure of your fitness regimen.
If you are keen to optimise your skills and hockey playing performance your aim should be to focus on low-fat, nutrient-packed carbohydrate meals and snacks such as rice, pasta, beans, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, sports bars; and dairy products.
For an active hockey player the ideal intake of carbohydrate should be between 50 and 100 grams, to be consumed within 30 minutes of completing training; and recovery snacks should always be combined with fluids to replace sweat losses and aid rehydration.
So what, you may ask, is contained in 50g of carbohydrate?
- 800ml sports drink
- A 250-350ml smoothie
- Three medium portions of fresh or dried fruit
- One large bread roll
- One and a half cups of fruit salad, with one tub of low fat yoghurt. Portions of dried fruit as an alternative
- Two pancakes with maple syrup
- Two sports bars
- Two x 200g cartons of yoghurt (not artificially sweetened)
- Three slices of toast with jam or honey
Because of the high intensity, “stop-and-go” nature of the sport, your fluid needs are generally high, especially if competing in hot and humid conditions, so it is vital to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of sports drinks or water, before, during and after a game.
The best way to assess fluid loss in athletes is by being weighed before and after a training session or game and then to drink approximately 1.5 litres for every kilogram of body weight lost.
Dehydration is a condition to avoid at all costs as it has an adverse effect on mental ability, physical skill, execution and decision-making and, as it is more of a problem in hot conditions; extra care needs to be taken to maintain good levels of hydration under such circumstances.
A good supply of cool, refreshing fluids (either water or sports drinks) should be readily available and taken at every opportunity during training or competition.
Alcohol is part of the culture of many team sports including hockey, but ideally you should always rehydrate and refuel sufficiently before drinking alcohol.
Ideally, it is best left off the menu altogether.
High in carbohydrate and low in fat, the pre-match meal should be eaten two to three hours before start of play.
Foods low in fibre and fat are preferential and it is important to make sure that this pre-match meal is well planned, using familiar ingredients. The following is an example:
- Toast or crumpets with jam.
- Breakfast cereal and low fat milk.
- Liquid meal supplement.
- Fresh, dried or canned fruit, yoghurt and low-fat milkshake.
- A wholegrain rice or pasta meal with a tomato-based sauce.
The half-time break of five to ten minutes provides a brief but welcome opportunity to take onboard fluids, particularly specially formulated sports drinks, which contain fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrate, making them the perfect combination at a time when athlete rehydration is the main priority.
There may also be natural breaks during play, such as injury time, and these present a good opportunity to take onboard additional fluids, where the situation arises.
Post-match and recovery nutrition
After an intense training session or competition it is essential that you recover body carbohydrate and fluid stores before the next session.
The recovery process is vitally important and there are no two ways about it; hockey players need to recover properly, especially if they want to keep their body fighting-fit and in the best possible shape.
There are three golden rules to a hockey players successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:
Therefore your ideal recovery meals and snacks must contain carbohydrate (for fuel), some protein (for muscle repair and/or gains) and plenty of fluids to replace sweat losses.
In order to start replenishing muscle glycogen it is important after training and games to refuel with carbohydrate-rich foods.
This is particularly important during hockey tournaments, when a number of matches are played during a short period of time, or during weeks of intense training.
In recovery, is also necessary to include protein for muscle tissue repair and growth, especially after weight- training sessions.
A recovery meal or snack, consumed within half-an-hour of the end of a training session or match, should ideally include carbohydrates, protein and a source of fluid to aid rehydration – a chicken or tuna salad sandwich with a bottle of sports drink, or a bowl of breakfast cereal with dried or fresh fruit and low fat milk are good examples.
Want to get involved in hockey?
If you’re not currently involved in hockey as a recreational activity or at a competitive level and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to hockey organisations that may be able to help you.
Want help with nutrition?
Get in touch now for more information about hockey nutrition and the use of sports supplements to help improve your strength, fitness, speed, endurance and competitive performances. Our team of sports scientists and nutritionists are always happy to help.