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Powerful Pre-Game Meals: What to Eat Before a Youth Baseball/Softball Game

Powerful Pre-Game Meals: What to Eat Before a Youth Baseball/Softball Game

By Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

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
diamond, 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 must have fluid for

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 or 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
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 diamond, field,
court, course, and track!

More on performance nutrition,
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and consultant. She
has worked with Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, Texas Christian University
Athletics, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and their minor league affiliates, FC
Dallas Soccer, the NBA G League, the Alliance of American Football
League, For more information from Amy,

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