It’s no secret that eating right is essential for youth athletes. Without the right nutrition fueling your player they’ll get tired sooner, take longer to recover and probably won’t have enough energy to play their best. Getting your youth athlete to eat three square meals a day is hard enough when you’re just balancing your home schedule—throw an away-tournament into the mix and it can seem almost impossible! But before you resort to fast food and snacks here are 3 tips to make sure your athlete is getting the proper nutrition even when they are traveling.
1. Scope out local restaurants beforehand.
Many bad food decisions are made because the team is hungry, tired and in a rush to eat. Save yourself a lot of trouble down the road and scope out area restaurants before you get on the road. If you know what kind of food is available you can plan out where and when your team will eat and call ahead to let the kitchen know you’ve got a dozen hungry athletes coming. Big tournaments can put a lot of strain on local restaurants, and you want to make sure your team gets a good dinner each night. If you have athletes will food allergies, planning ahead also means you won’t have to worry about accidentally choosing a restaurant where they can’t eat.
2. Send a volunteer to the grocery store.
Traveling for sports tournaments (especially if you have to fly) limits the amount of healthy snacks you can bring. Instead of lugging it all with you, send a volunteer to the local grocery store and stock up on things like baby carrots, apples, trail mix or even low-fat cheese snacks for your players. These snacks are a much better alternative to hotel vending machines and are perfect for quick breaks in between games. Sometimes tournament game schedules don’t allow for much down time, so having sandwich making materials on hand will help keep your players full of the right kind of food. And don’t forget to buy extra water!
3. Take advantage of your hotel’s continental breakfast.
No, your team probably doesn’t need to eat dozen mini-boxes of Frosted Flakes every morning, but take advantage of what you can with your hotel’s continental breakfast. Have your players grab an extra banana or bagel for later. Eggs (if they’re being served) are a great source of protein first thing in the morning. Even a glass of milk and piece of toast is better than a lot of fast food breakfast items. Breakfast is especially important if it’s going to be a long day.
What have you done to ensure that your team is getting proper nutrition on the road? How do you keep youth athletes eating right when traveling?