Becoming a great basketball player is more than just about training and mastering the fundamentals. While experience in the hardwood is unmatched when it comes to development, it’s the attention to detail that sets the great players apart from the good ones. This attention to detail comes not just in the form of developing your skillset meticulously, but also in watching your nutrition and hydration.
Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for basketball players to reach their full potential and for them to perform as best as they possibly can when they’re on the court. Without it, players can get easily fatigued, and all the training in the world would not suffice if you don’t have the energy to exert yourself in an actual game.
The Building Blocks of Energy
One’s energy levels is something that should never be neglected by basketball players. While training and playing will definitely give you an adrenaline boost, if you truly want to be great, you want to maximize the energy that you expend in order to train and play as efficiently as possible.
The main source of energy of our bodies is carbohydrates. When we consume carbohydrates, it gets broken down by our bodies into glucose which is then utilized as an energy supply for our cells.
The richest sources of carbohydrates are breads and grains as well as fruits and vegetables. It’s a must to include carbohydrates in your daily meals since this ensures that you have enough energy to push yourself to improve and to play as hard as you can.
Proteins are more widely known for their function in building and repairing tissues. Athletes who want to gain muscle make protein-rich foods a staple in their meals. However, our bodies also use the extra protein we consume as an energy source.
Some foods that are rich in protein are lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, and soy products.
Most people have the misconception that fats are always unhealthy, but these are essential in nutrition. Of course, there are types of fats that must be avoided and fats that you should incorporate in your diet for you to achieve optimal energy levels.
You’d want to go for fats that are healthy for the heart, such as mono-unsaturated fats, which you could get from foods such as avocado and olive oil, and omega-3 fats which can be found in foods like salmon and flaxseed.
The Importance of Hydration
We all know the prescription that we should drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but that should not hold true for everyone, especially for athletes such as basketball players, who need more water than the average person. Basketball is a sport that demands a lot from your body, and by the time you’re done playing, you’d always be drenched in sweat.
You must be disciplined when hydrating yourself as a basketball player. Your hydration must be divided into pre-game, in-game, and post-game. Without proper hydration, you may suffer adverse effects such as lethargy, poor concentration, and cramps.
Before the game, you should drink around 16 ounces of water or any sports drink at least two hours before you play, then drink 4 to 8 ounces 30 minutes before the game starts. You should not wait until you’re thirsty when you’re hydrating before the game, as your performance on the court may be affected negatively.
Playing basketball will make you sweat a lot, and failing to replenish the sweat you lose might dehydrate you and will definitely hinder you from performing as best as possible. It is advised to drink around 7 to 10 ounces of water or a sports drink for every 10 to 20 minutes you spend on the floor.
After the game, you should quickly look to replenish the fluids in your body. Aside from being a great way to refresh yourself, drinking 24 ounces of your drink of choice will have you recovering better and have you ready for the next day, so long as you continue to hydrate yourself throughout the rest of your day.
Preparing for a game is as much physical as it is mental. The physical aspect of preparation does not only involve stretching and getting some shots up to warm up, but also entails ensuring that your body has sufficient energy to run up and down the hardwood and to leap for shots and rebounds.
Your pre-game meal should be something that will prevent you from feeling hungry while the game is ongoing while at the same time providing you with enough energy without filling up your stomach too much. You’d want foods that are high in carbohydrates but low in fat and low in fiber, such as pretzels, bananas, or granola bars.
Nutrition for Recovery
Recovery nutrition is of utmost importance especially if you’re a basketball player who competes regularly, where games, not to mention practice, require you to push yourself to your limits almost daily.
After a game or after practice, it’s advised to take a recovery meal that is rich in protein so that your body can rebuild. Some great recovery meals are bagels, oatmeal with skim milk, Greek yogurt and fruit juice. However, not everyone may have the appetite to consume food after a game. Fortunately, there are multiple companies that sell post-game shake mixes which you can just gulp after an intense game or training session.