Back in the days of Boon, Hughes and Marsh, a drink in Cricket was considered a beer; now in the age of professional Cricket players, there is science leading the hydration guidelines for cricketers.
For young cricketers, water should be the primary drink of choice. Players should always have a water bottle with them, which is refilled at least a few times during the day andmore on training days or in hot weather.
Recent research looking at young athletes’ drinking habits showed a good ability to consume fluids during training or a match provided fluids were accessible. Younger athletes were poor at general hydration leading up to training and also drinking for recovery after training. The researchers commented the athletes were turning up to training or games poorly hydrated and were not sufficiently consuming fluids after the training session or match.
There are now many drinks marketed for their health benefits and ability to enhance sporting performance. So how do you tell the real deal from the hype?
This is the drink of choice all day long, every day. Aim for at least 1.5 litres per day for children and encouraging more on training and match days.
Sports Drinks e.g. Gatorade, Powerade
These drinks are specially formulated for use during vigorous and long duration activity. Cricketers may need to use sports drinks during matches on hot and humid days. Water should still be the predominant drink with sips of sports drink during more vigorous activity e.g. bowlers, during/after batting.
Sports Waters e.g. H2Go
These drinks are simply sweetened water and are not indicated for sports performance.
Vitamin-Enhanced Drinks e.g. Vitamin water
Sweetened water with added vitamins and minerals holds no performance advantage for Cricket.
Soft drinks have a very high sugar content and can contribute to weight gain if drunk in large quantities or too frequently. Save for special occasions only.
Energy Drinks e.g. V, Red Bull, Mother
Energy drinks are simply soft drink with added caffeine or a derivative such as Guarana. These drinks are not associated with enhanced sporting performance and may be dangerous in young athletes as they can cause increased heart rate, agitation and shaking.
Iced Tea and Cordial
Sugar added to water based drinks may enhance the flavour of the water but do not assist young cricketers to improve their performance. Too many sweet drinks can contribute to excess weight.
So grab that water bottle, keep it topped up with cool water and watch your Cricket performance be hit for 6!
Match Day Nutrition
On a match day it is very important that players have enough fuel (energy) to perform optimally. Not enough energy can result in fatigue, poor skill execution, poor concentration and overall, reduced performance on the field.
The physical requirements of cricket vary greatly due to the player’s position, which means that nutritional requirements also vary from individual to individual. Batsmen, bowlers (especially fast bowlers) and wicket keepers who are more active and spend more time on the field will need more energy than outfielders or those on the bench.
What should I eat?
Days leading up to the match
Consume a source of carbohydrate at every meal. Carbohydrates contain energy and this energy can be stored in the body as an important fuel ready for use during exercise.
Sources of carbohydrate include:
- Bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, cous cous
- Crackers, crispbread (Vitawheats, rice cakes etc.)
- Starchy veg – Potato, sweet potato and corn
- Milk, yogurt and other low fat dairy products
- Legumes and Lentils
- Fruit and fruit juice
These carbohydrate sources contain a variety of other important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, fat and fibre, which are essential for healthy body function.
Try to include a variety of sources of carbohydrate so you consume a variety of nutrients!
2-3 hours before the match
Consume a meal that is high in carbohydrate, low in fat and moderate in protein and fibre. Fats and protein can be hard to digest and may upset the gastrointestinal system. You don’t want to feel sick or need to go to the toilet while on the field!
Good examples of pre-match meals:
- Bowl of breakfast cereal with low fat milk and fruit
- Fruit salad and low fat yogurt
- Rice or pasta dishes with lean meat and vegetables (avoid creamy dishes, choose tomato based sauces)
- Banana smoothie and toasted cheese sandwich
- Lean ham and salad bread roll or multigrain sandwich
- Baked potato with cottage cheese filling
1 hour before the match
Top up your energy stores with a small snack that is high in carbohydrate and again low in fat.
Good snacks to top up energy levels include:
- 200g low fat yogurt
- Smoothie or Up and Go
- Sports bars or cereal bars
- A piece of fruit
Experiment with the timing and amount of foods that work for you!
During the match
During the match food can be used to top up energy stores to help keep us playing at our best. Remember it will depend on whether you have been off the field (waiting to bat) or if you have been out bowling or batting. You will not need as much if you have only been sitting on the bench.
Good examples of foods to eat during the game include:
- Sandwiches and rolls with lean meat & salad
- Wrap/pita/lavash with meat/egg/cheese filling
- Home made pizza
- Tomato based pasta dishes with lean meat or chicken
- Fruit salad and yogurt
Muffins or crumpets with jam/honey
Recovering from the match
For players who have undergone a heavy workload during the game it is important to consume a snack that contains both carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes of match completion.
Examples of post recovery snacks include:
- Cereal bars
- A piece of fruit (banana, watermelon etc.)
You can’t control the game but you can do all you can to perform your best by eating well!
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