Youth Pre/Post Game Q&A

With Jim Radcliffe

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at University of Oregon


Pre Game Meals

Q1) If my game is at 1pm – What should I eat and when do I eat?

A1) 3 ½ to 4 hours before the game, so approximately 9:00am have a good breakfast of good carbohydrates such as fruit, pancakes ,or oatmeal, cold cereal, toast, etc. and some good protein, a couple of eggs, some lean meat, milk or juice to drink. You want to have a good meal since it will be some time after the game when you have another opportunity to get a full meal.

Q2) What should I eat the night before the game?

A2) This is the meal that the majority of your game energy is going to be derived from. So eat well, plenty of good carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Lean meats and vegetable proteins work well for this meal

Q3) Which foods do I need to stay away from before games?

A3) Heavy Meats and High fat or fried foods that tend to sit in your stomach the rest of the day/night. High sugar or caffeine products which seem to give you a boost at first then produce a drop in the performance capabilities.

Q4) Should I drink sports drinks or water during my games?

A4) In my opinion water is best since pretty much the entire population of athletes can digest it and assimilate it efficiently and effectively, but research has been shown that a product with proper amounts of sodium and electrolytes (such as the simplest Gatorade products) is helpful during long, hot humid, type of contests.

Q5) When should I start drinking water before my game?

A5) Good hydration begins 2 to 3 days prior to any major athletic event. Do not wait until the day of a game to begin raising your levels of hydration, it will help but not near as well as if you began to hydrate well the entire week leading up to the contest.


Warming Up

Q1) When it’s hot outside do I need to warm up as much?

A1) Yes, the warm-up should be a complete routine that prepares you to play well, least of which is makes your muscles feel warm. The warm-up is a rehearsal for the techniques, mechanics, speed, and intensities of the contest. It does not need to be long; it needs to be high level and thorough.

Q2) Is it okay to stretch my muscles before I’ve done any running?

A2) If by “stretch” you mean moving through full ranges of motion in a dynamic continuous way, such as skipping shuffling, backwards movements, lunging crawling, etc. the yes, absolutely. If by stretch you mean laying on the ground and holding a stretch on certain specific muscles, then NO!

Q3) If I start sweating during my warm ups, did I do too much?

A3) Not at all, that is part of the idea of warming up. A good warm-up should prepare you so that the first play of a game is no shock to any part of your athletic system.


Post Game Questions

Q1) Is it okay to drink sports drinks after my game?

A1) Yes, Research shows that ingesting fluids high in carbohydrate and protein help in the recovery and rebuilding process. A simple, easy, and effective post contest/training drink is chocolate milk.

Q2) If I pulled or strained a muscle during the game, should I place ice or heat on the muscle after the game?

A2) Ice is best for the first few days after a pull. Heat only intensifies the inflammation the accompanies a pull or strain. Ice and cold, along with continued movement through controlled ranges of motion helps reduce the inflammation, and speed recovery.

Q3) Should I eat right after my game?

A3) Yes, as I mentioned before, it helps the recovery process.

Q4) If my body is sore after the game should I stretch my muscles to help out with the soreness?

A4) Yes, THIS is the time to perform long, slow, relaxed, stretching movements. This, along with good food and rest will help aid in the overall recovery and restoration process.