To celebrate and help you get ready for your best netball season yet, we asked NETFIT Dietitian Jess Spendlove to take the guesswork out of the nutrition piece of the puzzle.
It can be confusing and daunting for many players to know what and when to eat as your intensity of training and games increases. The great news? No matter if we are talking about training or game preparation, the timeline, framework and examples are the same. The reason for this is we want to use training as the place we practice what we do for games!
If you continually get hungry before you go to netball, your timeline for meal and snack preparation pre-training and games should look like this:
4 hours before training/game should be a meal
2 hours before is a snack
1 hour before is a primer
For our NETFITTERS that may find that three options are too much for you, you should aim to have at least two of the three options, one of them being the meal. For example, If you are looking at an afternoon training session, you may have lunch at school and then a snack or a primer before, but on game day, you may have a pre-game meal, a snack on the way and a primer at the court after warm-up.
Your pre-game or training meal should still feature our four important elements: protein, carbs, colours and healthy fats. But as the snack and primer get closer to performing, we need to refine what we consume to make sure what we have on board is easy to consume, comfortable on our stomachs and digested when we start.
Foods that contain healthy fats, fibre and protein are so good for us, and one of their many positive benefits are they slow digestion, which we want at all times, except for right before we perform – i.e. training and games. For this reason, the pre-game snack and primer should have less fat and fibre than our regular meals and snacks. Some examples include:
Pre-game or training meal
- Yoghurt, muesli & fruit
- Burrito Bowl
- Sandwich with fillings
- Vegetable wrap
Pre-game or training snack
- Smoothie (Jess’ TOP TIP: A vanilla whey protein powder + vanilla YoPro yoghurt with a banana, mixed berries, coconut water and some chia seeds. Hits the spot every time!)
- Fruit & yoghurt
- Oat based muesli bar
- Pre-game or training primer
- Rice Crackers
- Pikelets with Jam
- Dried fruit
Last but not least, what often gets missed is the importance of hydration. Hydration should be prioritised across all three stages of your nutrition, and days leading up to your netball games or training. After a long day of performance, a player’s mental focus has the ability to differentiate a good athlete and a great athlete. Staying hydrated before and during is linked to faster decision making and as a result, improved performance.
Focusing on hydrating well at least 3 days before your netball game will help your performance and ability to stay focused. Aim to drink 1L of water a day, I recommend buying a 1L water bottle so you know you just have to finish that!
The great news is you can do all this without any protein supplements or eating the same meal on repeat. The most important thing during your season is to nail the foundations and from there you can dive into being strategic about the timing of your meals. You’ve got this NETFITTERS!
Show us your favourite pre-game or training meals, snacks and primers on Instagram – don’t forget to tag @NETFITNetball and @Jess_Spendlove_Dietitian on your socials and be featured in our Baseline Magazine!