Participating in a soccer tournament can be a fun adventure for young people and soccer fans, (and a logistical nightmare for their parents), as well as a team building exercise. Adolescents who play sports are eight times as likely to be active and participate in their communities as those who do not.
While you may not always be attending international soccer tours, the importance of good health and nutrition is especially important when you do. So to avoid the sugar highs, subsequent crashes, and all around exhaustion that come with sports travel, here are five nutrition tips to keep in mind before your next tournament.
1. Steer Clear of Concessions
For players, this is particularly important. Excessively salty or sweet snacks can dehydrate soccer players, and even contribute to exhaustion later in the game. While it’s important to support the facility hosting the event, the concession stand is perhaps best left to the soccer fans watching.
2. Say No to Soda
Just like excessively salty or sweet foods can contribute to dehydration, so can soda, which is literally just flavored high fructose corn syrup. Not only that, soda can cause an upset stomach due to carbonation, and nobody needs that out on the field.
3. Stay Hydrated
There is nothing more important than hydration for soccer events. When you’re running across a field for upwards of an hour, often in intense heat, it’s essential to keep fluids running through your body. Professional soccer players run an average of 3.9 miles in a game, and adolescent leagues can rack up just as many miles. Electrolyte drinks are great, but water is number one in this game.
4. Plan Ahead
With two large coolers and a stockpile of ingredients, you should be set for two to three days of game play. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple of tournament travel, for soccer fans and players alike. They provide a mixture of sugars, protein, and carbohydrates that are easy to digest and energizing for the body.
5. Check Out the Tournament Location Beforehand
While you don’t have to visit the location beforehand, it’s always good to look at it from Google maps. This way, you can map out a route to restaurants, retail stores, and supermarkets in the case that you need any other supplies. Not only that, but fresh food is a must when on the road.
Back when the World Cup began in 1930, players didn’t have the same nutritional information society does today. Of course, modern pro soccer players have sports medicine professionals tracking their every move and planning their every meal. But no matter the level of play, good nutrition is a must.