Before starting a game or practice, kids need to have their bodies ready with fuel and adequate rest. Unfortunately, trying to fix these issues just before game time won't work. Food takes time to digest before it can used as fuel. With too little rest or poor nutrition, a child's performance can vary considerably from past efforts.
During a game, a player needs lots of energy. To produce this energy, the body needs the right kinds of food. Foods high in complex carbohydrates contain energy that are easier for the body to use. Foods containing protein are essential for proper growth and development but are harder for the body to convert to energy. Foods high in complex carbohydrates include:
Although these foods are all good for producing energy, too much of a good thing can cause a player to feel sluggish during a game. Players and cheer performers should avoid eating a big meal too close to a performance or game. To be effective and to allow time for digestion, larger meals should be eaten at least three to five hours before a game. Within two hours of a game, players should have just a light snack that is high in energy (carbohydrates) and easy to digest.
After a game or performance, players and cheerleaders should eat a snack to restore lost energy and wait approximately one hour before eating a full meal. Excessive fatigue after a game may be a sign of improper nutrition before a game.