North Kitsap Soccer Club

Rest, Nutrition, and Recovery

How an athlete takes care of his/her body
every day, every week, and every year
significantly affects his or her game perfo
rmance and even more impor
tantly their ability
to recover from the rigors
of multiple sessions per day
training, quick turnaround
competitions or participating in concurrent sp
orts. Sound familiar? This is what our young
athletes experience at various times throughout the year.
During the 2008 Olympics the world was captivated by 8 time goal medalist swimmer
Michael Phelps. His performances are legendary. But more impressive is his routine for
rest, nutrition and recovery which led up to and allowed him to sustain his high level of
What does an Olympian’s training regime hav
e to do youth competitors? Plenty. The
principles Phelps uses to get optimal per
formance from his body should be modified and
used by young athletes to ensure peak
performance during strenuous training and
competitive times.
Be like “Mike”. There is no shortcut here. Youth athletes should ensure they consistently
sleep between 8 ½ -9 ½ hours per evening (Phelps
likes to grab up to 10 hours). Running
on less sleep for long durations, especially dur
ing intense training and competitive cycles,
is a prescription for mental sluggishness
and non-full recovery of a fatigued body.
For young athletes this full sleep cycle is a crit
ical basis for optimal physical and mental
performance. Unfortunately, it is
often overlooked. It is critical to allow the fatigued cells of
the mind and body time to rejuvenate themse
lves which allows for consecutive high
levels of performance duri
ng multi-day training sessions
or short recovery period
Get a good night sleep!
NUTRITION – Eat, Drink & Be Merry!
The athlete’s body is a machine that converts f
uel (food) into work (
energy to play). Just
like it’s silly to start out a long car trip with
a near empty gas tank, it’s silly to ask your
body to do work with little food.
We have all marveled at the fact that during times of hea
vy training or competition
Michael Phelps eats 9,000-12,000 calories
per day (most people eat 1,500-2,400 per
day). Admittedly, eating a diet of 9,000-12,000 calories pe
r day may only be appropriate
for an Olympic champion but it does bring
home the point that
an athletes’ increased
activity level requires an increase in food and fluid intake.
Energy used for muscular ac
tivity, commonly measured in units called calories, are
provided mainly by the carbohydrates and fats in our diet. Proteins, though important
staples, are not an energy source. They se
rve as the building blocks for growth and
repair of cells.
As you can see an athletes’ body needs all
of these things to function properly.
There are all kinds of suggested diets fo
r athletes. Which one is the best?
For our purposes young athletes should eat sm
art and eat often. Make sure carbos, fats
and proteins are eaten appropriately. A comm
on sense approach should be taken. The
exact mix of fuel used by the muscles depen
ds upon how hard an athlete is working and
the timing of the food taken relative to the
exertion. Here are some ground rules that can
me modified by individuals as appropriate:
Pre-Training High Energy Meals
- The object here is to emphasize high energy foods
like complex carbohydrat
es and deemphasize others:
1. Take this meal the ni
ght before then again three to four hours before the event.
2. Make complex carbohydrates your prim
ary component. They are easily digested and
they help maintain blood glucose levels
which give you energy (pancakes, waffles,
bagels, muffins, toast and jelly, vegetables, fruit,
pasta, and rice are all good choices).
3. Keep the meal lower in fats and proteins.
4. Avoid greasy and highly seasoned foods.
5. Include foods that you enjoy
and are familiar to you.
The type of carbohydrates consumed is not
important, as the
complex (starch) and
simple (sugars) carbohydrates are equally
effective increasing high energy glycogen
stores. Even so, for overall health reasons it
would be wise for the players to consume
complex carbohydrates rat
her than simple sugars.
Post-Game Nutrition -
Proper refueling after t
he game is also important, especially if the
player is going to be competing in two or thr
ee games over a span of several days. It is
best to eat this meal within a few hours of
the final game of the day, then a similar
recovery-meal later if time allows. Here t
he introduction of proteins (the cell recovery
food) is critical.
Note: If the athlete is between training session
s or competitions eat this recovery meal
then during the pre-training period choose
the high energy meal mentioned above.
The following guidelines will help offset fati
gue and aid in the recovery process.
1. Drink plenty of fluids
immediately following the
game and throughout the day.
2. Within an hour after the gam
e, start your glycogen replacement such as Gatorade.
3. Then eat a well balanced meal of approx
imately 60% complex carbos (fruits,
vegetables, pastas, etc), 20% fa
ts (olive oil, dairy, desserts,
etc) and 20% protein (meats,
fish, eggs, dairy, soy, etc)
for best muscle recove
ry. The percentages here can be argued
but the important point is to eat a we
ll balanced meal that includes protein.
4. Don’t forget that fruit ju
ices are also an excellent sour
ce of fluid and carbohydrates.
Fluid Replacement
- Inadequate hydration before, duri
ng and after training/competition
is a major cause of poor performance,
fatigue, and even illness during a game or
practice. Replace fluids before, during and a
fter practices and games. This is especially
very important on days when both tem
perature and humidity are high.