Just because they are young and small, does not mean that kids do not need to fuel properly before a competition.  The proper amount of food and fluid is necessary before a competition and can make or break their performance.

Eat Smart Before You Compete

Save the heavy junk food for after (or not at all) and have your child fuel with meals and snacks that will provide a good energy balance.  Eating the proper foods will not only keep their playing skills sharp but will also keep their minds alert as well.    Have your child eat a healthy meal or snack 2 to 4 hours before they compete.

  • Cereal with milk and fruit
  • Granola bar with yogurt and a banana
  • Turkey sandwich on wheat with milk and fruit.
  • For the child who is too nervous to eat before a game a homemade smoothie might do the trick made with yogurt, fresh fruit and milk.

Drinking the Right Fluids

Making sure your child is hydrated is the key to a great performance. Not being properly hydrated is a recipe for disaster.  To ensure that your child is drinking enough throughout the day be sure to follow these simple steps:

  • Pack a water bottle in their backpack
  • Offer fluids at every meal
  • Offer extra fluids at lunch to prepare for an afternoon game
  • Drink during games and practices
  • Water is best

What to Eat After the Competition is Over

Following competition it is important to eat within 1 hour.  This allows the body to recover properly and to replenish diminished energy stores.  When a meal is eaten immediately after exercise the rate of recovery and replenishment is much higher than if a meal is consumed at a later time (>1 hr).  Any well-balanced meal will do.  If junk food is a must, now is the time to have it.  But remember don’t go overboard because the healthier the foods you put into your child’s body the better they will perform.


Katie Valdes, MS, RD, CSSD rnkvaldes@aol.com

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.



Flickr Creative Commons Image Sources: Virginia’s Photostream, Humphrey’s Photostream, and Rick McCharles

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