Netball Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Netball Players

netball-nutrition-and-sports-supplements-for-netball-playersNetball has an energetic stop-and-go style of play and because of this; both an athletes aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are actively engaged during a competitive game or in training.

This means that netball players, whether at a recreational or elite level, require certain physical attributes to be successful and these include endurance, strength, speed, agility and good ball-handling skills.

It is, therefore important to consume a diet that has sufficient amounts of carbohydrate, which will ensure that stored energy levels are topped up to fuel those fast sprints which are an essential part of the game.

In common with other sports, a balanced diet low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals will also help to retain energy levels.

Netball hydration

It is important for netball players to stay well hydrated at all times so fluids need to be consumed before and during matches as well as after them.

Fluid losses will vary, depending on the rate of athlete exertion, timing, environmental conditions and location of training and competitions.

For example, playing outside on a hot summer’s day will result in noticeably higher fluid losses, whereas indoors you may find that you do not sweat as much.

However, you should be aware that you can still lose significant amounts of fluids when competing in air-conditioned venues, simply because the cooler air temperatures make you less likely to feel the need to take on-board fluids.

It is essential that, in order to start any training or netball competition well hydrated, you should drink regularly throughout the previous day, increasing that consumption to between 200 and 300 ml immediately before the activity.

The latter not only helps with hydration, but also prepares the stomach to accept subsequent fluids taken during the game or training session.

As with any sport, there is a need to keep a very close watch on an athlete’s fluid levels, and the most accurate and reliable way of assessing this is by weighing and then comparing any weight differential, before and after a session is finished.

For every one kilogram of players body weight that is found to have been lost, they should look to replenish this by drinking 1.5 litres of either water or sports drink.

Pre-event nutrition

High in carbohydrate and low in fat, your pre-match meal should ideally be eaten two to four hours before the 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 are typical examples of what you might eat:

  • Chicken or tuna salad sandwich
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Rice or pasta meal with a low-fat sauce
  • Breakfast cereal with low fat milk
  • A liquid nutrition supplement

If you feel the need, you could also have a snack – a sports bar, sandwich, or fresh/dried fruit – in the hour before the match.

Nutrition during play

As for nutritional intake during a game, while carbohydrate has to be considered, your focus should be on fluids for hydration, and the frequent breaks in play provide ideal opportunities to take on-board fluids in the form of sports drinks.

Sports drinks are preferred to water in this environment as not only are they tastier than water, with the result that larger volumes tend to be taken on-board, but they also deliver some carbohydrates to the brain and working muscles, and some salts, which help to replenish amounts lost through sweat.

Beware, if you become dehydrated during a game it will have an adverse effect on your ability to concentrate, your ability to think quickly and your ball-handling skills, so once again sports drinks can be the ideal solution.

They help to top up energy levels and also encourage you to drink more.

Post-event nutrition and recovery

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; netball 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 netball players successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:

  • Refuel

    Refuel muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).

  • Repair

    Repair muscle tissue (for maintenance and development).

  • Rehydrate

    Rehydrate to replace fluids and salts lost through sweat.

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.

This can be accomplished by an appropriate recovery snack taken within 30 minutes of finishing a netball game or training session, followed three to four hours later with a more substantial meal.

A typical recovery snack could be something like this:

  •  A chicken or tuna salad roll taken with fluids.
  • Instant soup, bread roll and some cheese.
  • Fruit salad and yoghurt, plus fluids
  • Fresh fruit smoothie.

The follow-up meal should again contain carbohydrates and protein along the following lines:

  • Fish or grilled chicken breast with potato and fresh vegetable.
  • Rice or pasta meal with a low-fat sauce.
  • Jacket potato with low-fat fillings.
  • Baked beans on toast

Rehydration is also invaluable during the recovery phase and it should, therefore, become common practice to monitor fluid losses by being weighed before and after exercise.

Camaraderie being what it is in netball and other team sports there is always a temptation to drink alcohol after matches, either to celebrate a victory or drown sorrows in defeat, and this is acceptable in moderation.

However, you should always bear in mind that excess consumption can impair recovery and athlete rehydration, as well as having an impact on overall sports performance.

Want to get involved in netball?

If you’re not currently involved in netball 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 netball organisations that may be able to help you.

  • England Netball

    England Netball, formerly the All England Netball Association, is the national body which oversees, promotes and manages netball in England. High Five Netball has been heavily promoted by the All England Netball Association. It has approximately 75,000 affiliated members.

  • Netball Scotland

    Netball Scotland is responsible for promoting, organising and developing netball in Scotland from ‘grass roots’ to elite level. It has more than 3,000 registered members and an estimated 20,000 participants in Scottish schools.

  • The International Netball Federation (INF)

    The International Netball Federation (INF), formerly the “International Federation of Netball Associations” (IFNA), is the worldwide governing body for netball. The INF was created in 1960 and is responsible for world rankings, maintaining the rules for netball and organising the World Netball Championships.

  • Netball in Wikipedia

    Netball is a ball sport played by two teams of seven players. Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960, international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women’s Basketball (later renamed the International Netball Federation (INF)) was formed…

Want help with nutrition?

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