Nutrition for Netball

A healthy balanced diet will help to keep you firing both on and off the court. Include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, lean meat/chicken/fish and dairy foods. Try not to over-do it with foods that are high in fat/sugar or overly processed, as these can leave you feeling flat and fatigued.
Fluid requirements
Good hydration is essential for sustained performance. Players should start training/games hydrated and replace their losses by drinking small sips at each break time and in the hours after exercise. As a general guide, at least 2½ - 3 litres per day should be consumed.
On hot days, players will need to increase the amount of water they drink on the day and also the day before the game. Water is the primary fluid for optimal hydration. Coconut water, Hydralyte and fruit juices are also good options to pair with water to maintain hydration levels.

Being dehydrated can slow you down, reduce your shooting accuracy, and impact your ball skills. It can also make you dizzy and increase your risk of cramping up on court. It is essential to maintain good hydration to avoid the above occurring.

Pre-game nutrition
The objective here is to hydrate and maximise your glycogen stores without being overly full and upsetting your stomach. Depending on the time of your game, the examples are for breakfast and lunch type meals:

2-3 hours before the game: Two poached eggs on wholegrain toast with spinach, mushroom and tomato, porridge or cereal with fruit and peanut butter, chicken and salad sandwich on wholegrain bread or a baked potato with meat and salad.

30 mins before: A light carbohydrate snack such as a banana or muesli bar.

Pre-game meals and snacks should be high in carbohydrate to provide energy for muscles. It’s best not to try a new meal before a game as this can result in cramp or stitch. Trial a new meal first in order to see how you react.
During the game
At this stage the main focus is small, regular sips of water. Additionally a small carbohydrate rich snack may help you maintain intensity especially if you are playing a full game.
Post-game nutrition

This is the most important time for nutrition on game day.

After you cool down you should eat a light snack that contains carbohydrate (to restore energy to the muscles) and protein (for growth and repair).
A banana and yogurt, protein ball or a carton of chocolate milk are all examples of good post-game nutrition snacks.
These snacks should be followed up by a more substantial meal within two hours following exercise.
Game day meal plan ideas
Breakfast examples
  • Fruit smoothie with banana, milk, frozen berries, oats, honey and cinnamon
  • Porridge with berries, chia seeds and banana
  • Poached eggs on wholegrain toast with spinach, tomato and mushrooms
  • Veggie omelette (tomato, onion, fetta and spinach) with wholegrain toast
  • Baked beans on wholegrain toast with cheese and tomato

* Try to limit high sugar processed breakfast cereals and meal replacement drinks such as Up & Go and Sustagen (these should only be consumed when running late or without another option and should not become a regular habit).

Lunch examples
  • Sandwich, rolls or pita bread (always wholegrain) with fillings such as lean chicken and salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach, avocado, carrot, capsicum), tuna, lean beef, cheese or hommos
  • Vegetable soup and a bread roll
  • Homemade pizza with salad
  • Homemade burger with salad
  • Rice paper rolls with salad
  • PLUS additional fruit and yogurt or any other healthy snacks as outlined

Dinner examples
  • Grilled, barbecued or lightly pan-fried meat, skinless chicken or fish with vegetables/salad (marinate first if desired)
  • Pasta with a tomato-based or low fat sauce containing some lean meat, poultry, fish, seafood or some grated cheese and a side salad e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, tortellini with a chicken and tomato sauce
  • Stir-fry – include something for protein, vegetables and rice or noodles e.g. chicken, beef or tofu with vegetables and cashew nuts
  • Mexican e.g. beef and kidney bean burritos with salsa and a side salad
  • Curry or casserole with rice e.g. mild lamb curry, apricot chicken, tuna casserole
  • Roast on a rack or in the covered BBQ with a mix of oven baked and steamed vegetables or salad

Snack examples
  • Fresh, canned or frozen fruits
  • Vegetable sticks with hommos or veggie dip
  • Mixed, unsalted nuts or a trail mix with dried fruit and chocolate chips
  • Sliced apple and carrot sticks with peanut butter
  • Homemade fruit muffins
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Rice crackers with cheese/avocado and vegemite

References