How to Prepare for Hockey Camp

July 29, 2016 , ,

The problem with summer camps or pre-season tryout hockey camps is that they are usually a shock to your body.  The gruelling on-ice and off-ice sessions will deplete your energy stores often much more than you have been used to.  If your body is not prepared for the shock, you may feel more tired and sore and perform poorly.  Make sure you do the following two things to prepare for hockey camp:

First, prepare your body’s energy stores for camp. One to three days prior to camp eat a carbohydrate-loaded diet.  This means eat more of the carbohydrate foods such as grains, fruit, and dairy.  By carbohydrate loading, you will be sure to have as much energy stored in your muscles as possible for the start of camp.

Second, prepare your meal plan for camp. Often there is not enough time to digest full meals between training sessions.  You will need to choose foods that pass through the stomach quickly. You can also experiment with having a liquid lunch and many small snacks throughout the day.

Red Smoothie

Red Smoothie

If food is not provided, you have a great opportunity to individualize your meal plan and eat foods that are exactly right for you.  To make a plan, start by looking at the camp schedule.  When will you be off ice, when will you be on ice, and when are the times you can eat meals and snacks?

Camps may be the most physically demanding time of the whole season, especially if you are out of shape. To make it through training camp, you will want to find ways to reduce muscle soreness, you will want to eat foods that will give you a lot of energy, and you will want to eat foods that are quick to digest. In your meal plan for camp try including some of these breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas.

Camp breakfast ideas:

  • Oatmeal made with milk, banana, brown sugar, and almonds + Orange juice
  • Pancakes, maple syrup, peanut butter + Apple juice
  • Whole grain cereal or granola, milk + Banana strawberry smoothie

Camp snack ideas:

  • Good locker room snacks: fruit sauces, granola bars, UHT (ultra heat treated) milks, sports drinks
  • Good in-between session snacks: cereal and dried fruit, ½-sized sandwiches, sport bars, low-fat muffins
Chickpea Muffins

Chickpea Muffins

Camp lunch ideas:

  • Sandwiches
    • Choose a bread, a protein like meat or eggs, and a small amount of vegetables.
    • Limit sauces, mayo, and spices as these can slow or upset digestion.
  • Pasta salads
    • Choose a pasta, a protein like cheese or chicken, and a small amount of vegetables.
    • Limit oils, sauces, spices and mayo as these can slow or upset digestion.
  • Liquid lunches
    • Smoothie
    • Puréed soup such as a sweet potato potage + milk
Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Many camps will provide lunches and snacks.  If this is the case, we still recommend that you bring some snacks to supplement the camp menu for times when you find you did not get enough to eat.  When choosing from a buffet line, here are some things to think about:

  • Check out all your options before choosing your foods and portions so you do not end up selecting something you don’t want or missing something you wanted.
  • Ask questions about the food to the cooks and servers when you are unsure of what is in the food.
  • Ignore the choices the other players are making! Their needs and goals are likely very different from yours.  If one player eats a big dessert at lunch it does not mean you should do the same. It is cooler to look good performing on the ice in front of the coaches than it is to overeat at lunch.
  • During lunch, leave the food area once you are done.  Otherwise, it will be too tempting to go get seconds and overeat before the afternoon session.

At the end of the day, remember to eat and drink well to recover.  You need to replenish your carbohydrate stores by eating carbohydrate-rich foods, and you need to rehydrate. This can easily be accomplished by drinking water every half hour and eating a balanced supper and a snack before bed.

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Pearle Nerenberg
Pearle Nerenberg, MSc., R.D. is Canada's leading expert on hockey nutrition, and author of the book The Nutrition Edge for Hockey Performance. She co-founded and chairs the Hockey Nutrition Network, an international non-profit organization dedicated to linking hockey players with top sports dietitians who have an expertise in hockey nutrition.

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