Saturday, June 15, 2024

Hockey Matters: Importance of pre-game fuelling

Many hockey players put their all into the training leading up to a game but neglect their nutrition. But no matter what sport or activity you do, what you consume leading up to a game will have an effect on your performance. Making sure the body is optimally fuelled beforehand, can be the difference between failure and success.

Therefore, what you eat the day before and leading up to a big game day deserves just as much attention as your training! So here are some simple things you should prioritise with your nutrition before your next match.

What is Pre-Game Fuelling?

Pre-game fuelling includes the days leading up to the game and the morning of the match. The meals you consume a couple of days before the game will affect how you feel leading up to the game and how you feel the morning of. The goal of the meal the evening before should be full of carbohydrates rich foods, but also high quality proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.

The carbohydrates increase our storage of glycogen in our muscles and liver, which will be used to fuel our exercise. The aim is not to eat all the carbohydrates you can possibly see, as this can lead to bloating and stomach discomfort that can also disrupt your sleep. The goal is simply to maximise our glycogen stores for the big day.

Many hockey players can benefit from extra carbohydrate intake three days out from the match day. Aim for a carbohydrate intake of 8-10 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. So, if you are a 70kg athlete, you would need 560-700 grams of carbohydrates per day in the days leading up to the match.

On the morning of the game, you want a balanced high carbohydrate meal 2-4 hours before exercise to provide you with the extra bit of energy. You can then also have a high carbohydrate snack that is easy to digest 1-2 hours before.

The Benefits of Pre-Game Fuelling

Pre-event fuelling has numerous benefits including:

– Maximising muscle glycogen stores

– Increasing the availability of carbohydrates during matchess

– Encourages recovery leading up to the event

– Reducing the feeling of fatigue

– Decreases the feeling of hunger

– Reduce cramping

– Increases concentration and reduces brain fog

You don’t have to overcomplicate pre-game fuelling. Even if you only focus on the meal the night before the event it is just important to get a balanced meal rich in carbohydrates!

What Foods are Best the Night Before the Match?

I am sure many of us have tried or heard of people eating a massive bowl of pasta the night before a big game. This is because pasta is a rich carbohydrate source, however, pasta isn’t the only way to fuel up pre-game. It is important to consider all macronutrients when planning your meal the night before.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates contain long chained molecules and provide us with energy, fibre and vitamins and minerals. The majority of your plate should be full of starchy carbohydrates and fruits/vegetables. Good options are; potatoes, sweet potatoes, wholegrain pasta, quinoa, lentils, oats, rice, beans, fruits and vegetables.

Lean Protein

Protein is important in a balanced diet and for our recovery. Make sure that at least ¼ of your plate contains a learn protein source. Good options are; chicken, turkey, beans, fish, tofu, seitan and lentils.

What Foods Should you Avoid the Night Before?

It is important to avoid foods you know cause you any discomfit in the days leading up to an event. Please do not try any new recipes or ingredients before a game as you do not know how your body will react or feel.

Some foods that you may want to be wary of the evening before are:

Dietary Fats

Fats have a place in a performance and healthy diet but a high intake of dietary fats the night before may make you feel very full. Keep an eye on the amount of oils, dressings, creams and fried foods you are consuming the night before.

Spicy Foods

Some people can handle spice better than others. But to play it safe, it is recommended to limit or avoid spicy foods the evening before as this can lead to an upset stomach and bloating.

Gas Producing Foods

Some foods are known to release a lot of gas when they are being digested. You may want to avoid or limit these to reduce the chance of bloating. These include cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts and broccoli, beans and legumes. If you consume these foods often, you may not have any issue with bloating, meaning they may be fine to consume the evening before.

What Foods are Best the Morning of the Match?

The fist meal of the day should be 2-4 hours prior to the game. This should be carbohydrates based and contain some protein. It is recommended to consume 1-4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight.

Some good examples of meals are;

– Mixed Berry Overnight Oats

– Banana Oat Pancakes

– Bircher Muesli

– Bagel and Eggs

– Wholemeal Toast with Smoked Salmon

– Rice and Beans

Your last chance to top up your fuel before a game is 1 hour prior to the start. It is recommended to aim for 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight and to consume easy to digest carbohydrates, such as simple sugars. This will minimise the chance of any gastrointestinal issues.

Some good snacks include:

– Fruit Juices

– Fruit Toast

– Carbohydrate Gels

– Dried Fruits

– Fresh Fruit

– Rice Pudding


Make sure to stay on top of your hydration leading up to a game. You don’t want to over hydrate as this can lead to excessive toilet stops and discomfort. Make sure to check out your urine colour to make sure you are hydrated (a pale, not clear colour is best)!

Make sure you are hydrated on the morning of, you don’t want to be playing catch up! Make sure to be sipping water little and often leading all the way up to the game.

Water is the best option for hydration, but some juices, milk and herbal teas are also good options.

Give these tips a go

Pre-game fuelling should be planned into your exercise routine to ensure optimal performance on the day. You want to focus on a good carbohydrate intake but be careful not to neglect the other macronutrients. Give some of these tips a go in training and see how much better you can perform!

Eat Well, Perform Better!

Total Hockey


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