There are no foods that, when taken several hours before a contest, that will produce super performance. The only "miracles" derived from nutrition come from proper eating on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis. Even so, what a player eats and drinks immediately before a game may affect performance. The goals of the pre-game meal are:
- Provide energy to the muscles.
- Keep players from getting hungry while competing.
- Make sure players are well hydrated.
- Prevent upset stomach during competition.
Below are some tips to help achieve these goals. Try to take your main meal three to four hours before the game so that the stomach will be relatively empty during the game.
- Make carbohydrates your primary component. They are easily digested and they help maintain blood glucose levels. Pancakes, waffles, bagels, muffins, toast and jelly, vegetables, fruit, pasta, and rice are all good choices.
- Keep the meal low in fats and protein, since such components are digested slowly. Avoid greasy and highly seasoned foods.
- Include foods that you enjoy and are familiar to you.
Proper refueling after the game is also important. Avoid pop, junk food and greasy foods. The following guidelines will help offset fatigue, lactic acid buildup, and aid in the recovery process.
1. Drink plenty of fluids (water and sports drink) immediately following the game and throughout the rest of the day to replace the water and minerals lost through sweat. Bananas are great. They are filling and replace potassium which prevents cramping.
2. Within 30 minutes after the game, start your glycogen replacement drinks such as Gatorade. Very Important!
3. For dinner after the day’s games are over, try to eat high protein foods to help repair muscles.
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