The Importance of Nutrition at the Club Level
There’s value in implementing good habits around nutrition for younger athletes. Here’s what Hudl and the Los Angeles Galaxy have to say about the subject.
Kristen Andrews is the Sports Performance Dietitian for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, as well as the U.S. Men’s National Team. Kristen worked with Hudl to shed some light on just how important nutrition is at the club level.
As the Galaxy’s Sports Performance Dietitian, her main responsibility is to oversee the club-wide sports nutrition program, including their large foodservice operation, the provision of supplements, nutrition education, hydration testing, body composition measurements, recovery strategies, blood testing and more.
One thing has been made abundantly clear through conversations she’s had with some local club coaches: many feel completely ill-equipped to influence their athletes’ nutritional intake. Add the excessive stress they tend to place on young athletes during tournaments, and we have a problematic situation. Unfortunately, most club teams lack access to sports dietitians to guide players’ nutritional habits. The next best option is for sports dietitians like her to find creative ways to provide coaches with the information they need to ensure their players are healthy, hydrated and performing at their best.
Traditionally, sports nutrition has inhabited a space dominated by the use of protein powders, sports drinks and supplements. Not much focus is on well-rounded intake of food. That’s quickly changing thanks to sports dietitians around the globe working tirelessly to teach athletes and coaches the food they eat really does make a difference in the long haul. Professional teams from every sport are beginning to recognize the role of chronically-sound nutrition in the improvement of performance indicators. This development should trickle down to club directors and coaches.
A popular visual to explain the importance of nutrition is an empty gas tank with the saying “Food is Fuel.” It’s simple, yet effective, to get to the root of why athletes, coaches and parents should care about what they put in their bodies. What you eat literally provides energy for everything you do. Nutrition has an impact on an athlete’s ability to recover, avoid injury, build muscle, lose body fat, gain strength, increase agility, strengthen their immune system, increase adaptive responses to exercise, train their gut for optimal nutrient absorption and shorten the return to play after injury.
Seeing improvements in body composition is nice, as is increasing your one-rep max in the back squat. But what ultimately matters most to athletes is how they perform. And the best way to improve performance is to help athletes learn how to consistently feel on top of their game.
Nutrition and Player Development
Developing new nutrition habits is not easy. In fact, many athletes require constant feedback to promote good decisions. Educating athletes about the importance of nutrition when they’re young is the most effective way to create permanent behavior change.
By working with Galaxy players to develop a nutritional knowledge base, Andrews knows their nutritional foundation will be heads and shoulders above their competition. This investment will make for healthier athletes, more reliable performers and better professionals in the future.
Steps to Implementation
Okay, you understand just how important nutrition is for the development of athletes. Now what? How do you go about providing this much needed information when you’re not an expert yourself? Good news! There are registered dietitians and sports dietitians (who hold a specialized credential in sports nutrition) across the country who are able and willing to help.
Club directors and coaches shouldn’t hesitate to contact sports dietitians to visit their teams and deliver nutrition talks. These professionals have handouts and information on how to navigate nutrition during tournaments. They can help create a plan to ensure players properly fuel, hydrate and recover. To identify sports dietitians in your area, visit the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition group’s website to browse a registry of sports dietitians and find the one that meets your needs.
The bottom line, is in today’s world of competitive sports it’ll take more than just talent to make it to the top. Maximizing nutrition is one of the ways club directors and coaches can ensure their athletes have every opportunity to be successful.
Note, this blog is provided by our partners at Hudl who are also working to empower coaches & athletes to achieve better outcomes in sports, health, and life.
About Hudl: Hudl Is the Global Leader in Video Analysis Software. We build performance analysis software for teams at all levels around the world. We provide over 3.5 million coaches and athletes–from over 130,000 teams–the insight they need to win. With Hudl, you can efficiently analyze video, track stats, manage feedback and create highlights to showcase your team’s success, all in one easy-to-use online platform. Check out Hudl.com to stay updated on all things video.