The right nutrition plays a big part in athletes performing at their best and is just as important as practicing skills and fitness training. Volleyball players should pay close attention to nutrition and make sure they eat the right foods at the right time, especially when it comes to taking part in championships. Sports nutrition specialists have studied the effects of nutrition on the bodies of athletes and have honed their knowledge and expertise into a fine art to help sports enthusiasts reach their goals. Below are 7 tips on how volleyball players can improve their game by improving their diets.
1. Eat Variety of Foods
Eat a variety of foods from the 5 key groups to include all the vitamins and minerals your body cells need to allow your muscles to perform the work required of them. A comprehensive diet for volleyball players should include foods like vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, whole grains, and plenty of pure, fresh water. These are all the elements that are essential for the cells to perform at an optimum level.
2. Eat Small Meals Throughout the Day
The body of a physically active volleyball player needs fuel all day and it is best to eat small meals every three to four hours. Every time you eat you supply the body with nutrients that provide energy for the muscles to perform and glucose for the brain to think. A common problem for players is fatigue from going too long without eating between meals, depriving the body of much needed sustenance and the resultant energy it needs to perform well.
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Eat immediately after getting up in the morning and never skip breakfast. A lot of students skip breakfast or delay eating for lack of time in the morning. This is a very bad habit for anyone, but particularly so for volleyball players. Every day you build on the foundation you created the day before and eating first thing in the morning helps to bring your energy levels back up to optimal levels after a night of fasting. Skipping breakfast means that your energy levels will remain low the whole day and puts in a serious deficit that is difficult to catch up. Even if you have lunch and go to practice in the afternoon, you will be operating on a false assumption that your energy levels are sufficiently high to take part in strenuous physical activity. In fact your energy levels have actually been low all day long since early morning and it will take much more than a meal at lunch time to restore it.
4. Planning is Everything
Volleyball players have to pay close attention to their expected activities by looking at the day to see where calories are needed throughout the day. You have to make the time to eat before a practice session or game. If you eat before you play you will get more out of your game because you will have the energy stores that you need to perform well. You don’t want to turn up for a game and find that your energy bank is empty and try to dredge the energy from somewhere. You want to have access to high energy early on in the first part of your activity which means you have to have a good store of carbohydrates readily available in your bloodstream.
It is recommended to eat a light meal at least one hour before you play. Include foods high in carbohydrates such as a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly, a bagel with fruit, dry cereal or a trail mix, or yogurt and fruit. Planning means you need to know where you are going to be and have the snacks with you when they are needed.
5. Drink Pure Water Frequently
All athletes know that they should drink more water but make the mistake of waiting until they are thirsty. Include your water drinking into your planning schedule and drink at least 32 ounces before noon and 32 ounces before a practice session. Carry your water with you so that you always have access and drink before you get thirsty.
6. Eat After Play
Eat a snack within a few minutes of coming off the playing field to take advantage of the fast rate of recovery the body undergoes within the first two hours after physical activity. It is important to eat a meal within an hour after play to supply the body with the necessary nutrients it needs to rebuild muscle cells and restore energy levels. This could be a protein-carbo shake, yoghurt and nuts, or a protein bar that is easy to prepare in advance and keep on hand.
7. Balance Protein and Carbohydrates
The right balance of protein and carbohydrates is essential. After a game your meal should contain 50% protein and 50% carbohydrates. You have to understand that your muscle cells have undergone microscopic damage during your intense workout and that some hormones like cortisol reach elevated levels during exercise. As soon as protein is consumed cortisol production is suppressed which helps to reduce muscle-cell damage and prevent soreness which is part of the recovery process.