It is frequently stated that the body is like a racecar — give it the correct fuel, including quality carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats and fluids and performance will be top notch. A well-designed nutrition plan can increase performance in training and officiating by improving mental performance, decision-making and mood.
Proper planning can also increase energy levels and provide more efficient recovery methods with lower levels of soreness, ultimately prolonging your career as a proficient official. A proper nutrition plan consists of feeding your body energy-providing nutrients which, for officials, are primarily carbohydrates (pasta, cereals, breads, other grains and fruits and vegetables).
Proteins for the development and repair of muscles are primarily found in meats, poultry, fish, dairy products and many nuts. There are also countless numbers of protein shakes and bars that are a good source of proteins. Although proteins are not a primary source of energy, they may be used in small amounts during workouts or strenuous game conditions lasting two to three hours.
Fats also play an important role in nutrition. Fats act as a continuous fuel supply during long duration activities at a low-to-moderate intensity.
Hydration, the other half to proper nutrition, is a far-too-often overlooked aspect of preparation and performance. Your body is made of mostly fluids — around 60 percent, in fact. Performing at your best requires being properly hydrated.
Dehydration, which is the lack of water in the body resulting from inadequate intake of fluids or excessive loss of fluids through sweat, can create negative effects for anyone. Even a very small amount of dehydration (losing two percent of your body weight, or just four pounds for a 200-pound person) can negatively affect performance. In warmer environments, loss of water can occur very quickly, especially considering the amount of gear and clothing worn by officials in sports such as softball and baseball. Hydrating before, during and after training or games can help minimize fluid loss, leading to improved performance in games.
Eating a quality high-carbohydrate meal (cereal bars, sandwich, pasta, fruits) one to two hours before arriving at the game site is recommended. That will be your primary source of energy. Water intake should occur throughout the day, not just during or after games. Sweat rates differ from person to person, so it is vital to distinguish how much fluid needs to be replaced during and after a game. Do not let thirst be a reminder to drink water or sports drinks. By the time thirst is experienced, it may already be too late and you will be dehydrated.
Drinking water or a sports drink during the game is highly recommended. Also, it is a good idea to bring a cereal bar or something similar that can be eaten quickly between innings or during halftime to assist in supplying some energy to the body.
Sunflower seeds, the most common game-time snack for umpires, are another source of fuel. Eating seeds can supply sodium to the body which is lost in sweat. Plus they taste good and are easy to consume. However, since the shells need to be discarded (usually by spitting them out), small amounts of water are being taken away from the body. That makes it even more important to hydrate before, during and after a game.
It is important to consume a meal within the first hour after a game. That is the time when the body is most susceptible to the intake of quality nutrients. Proteins (lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy) should be included in the postgame meal to aid in the development and repair of muscle tissue, and provide essential amino acids. For example, a 200-pound man would require 100 grams of protein after a light to moderate intensity activity, such as training or working a game, and up to 200 grams after a more physically intense activity.
Carbohydrates should also be included at the postgame meal to replenish the energy stores depleted during a game. Again, the higher the intensity, the greater the requirement to replace what was lost.
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