Sports Conditioning and Nutrition

Sports Conditioning and Nutrition

Strength and conditioning coach is a fitness professional who prescribes exercises to enhance the performances of the athletes in their particular sports and also helps in prevention of injury and proper mechanics within their sports performances. He works hand in hand with sports coaches. Equally important is the nutrition part. They need to be properly advised on Pre event, during the game and post event nutrition. There are many clubs at local level which do not have special Fitness and nutrition coaches. Children and youngsters are trained only in professional skills and the overall development in strength, power and flexibility is ignored. At the most they are advised to run long distance and do some jumps and cross toe touches. Strength and conditioning is as important as professional skills and every sport places different demands which require different training methods of the particular sport. The outcome of exercise of any type is specific to the type of work done. Sports conditioning follows the SAID prinsport1ciple, or Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand Many sports require mix of strength, endurance, agility, speed, balance and flexibility.  Your training should incorporate all these aspects of fitness. For e.g. Table tennis /badmington/Lawn Tennis stroke starts from the toes through the legs the waist and shoulders, the arms are merely APPENDAGES. So merely developing the arms and chest muscles will not impro
ve your performance. These are a reaction/speed games that require explosive anaerobic movements which must make up the main specific type of training program that is required. So running long distances will not help. They use slow twitch muscle fibers which can be developed through aerobic training, whereas, fast twitch muscle fibers can be developed by several small bouts of sprints. When planning strength conditioning for any sport there are certain principles of specificity that must be considered:

  1. Muscle groups involved

If a player needs to improve their ability to move around the court there is hardly any point in concentrating on building big arms and chest. The muscles of the legs and waist (quadriceps, gluteals, plantar muscles of the lower leg and the deltoids) need to be developed. Again the ability to move around the court cannot be confined to strength. Speed and power must be built on a base of strength. Also developing the muscles used in a particular stroke need not necessarily give optimum results. It is important that the force is applied in the correct direction.

  1. Direction of application of force

Some muscles groups, especially the larger ones, can apply forces in different directions. For example in the forehand top spin the deltoids are brought into play, but the deltoids can move the arm forward sideways or back and it is the forward action which needs to be developed to aid this movement. Section of the deltoid which affects action of the upper arm.

  1. Range of movement

Training the appropriate group and in the correct direction are important but to gain optimum results the action should also be developed through at least the same range of movement required in the sport. It would be preferable to work the muscle through a greater range of movement (ROM) than that required by the sporting action that is to be strengthened. For example if a player rotates the trunk through the full range when performing the topspin, trunk exercises must be performed through at least that ROM. However, even if the sport does not require the complete ROM possible in a joint, some work should be done through the full range to prevent losing flexibility and to allow for the odd occasion when a greater ROM is required.

  1. Duration of performance

The coach must consider the purpose of conditioning training in that specific sport. In Table Tennis or badmington power is a consideration and so is strength in the prevention of overuse injuries but then endurance is also an important requisite. However the endurance required is not the continuous action of a marathon runner but rather a more intermittent type. Again not all these qualities can be developed at the same time.

Sports nutrition


The day-to-day diet and eating habits of individuals who frequently train or participate in sport is very important in terms of performance level and progression. Scientific developments and new discoveries about how different food types work within the body mean that athletes can now tailor their diets to help them excel in their particular sport. Whether you are a professional or amateur athlete, if you wish to optimize your performance level and guarantee continuous improvement, a healthy and well-planned diet could help you to do so. There is no magic food or shortcut
which is going to provide the body with all of the vitamins and minerals it needs, so it is important to maintain a balanced diet which incorporates a variety of food groups and nutrients. Many athletes and sports enthusiasts spend a lot of time planning meals which could help to optimize their performance, but very few individuals actually possess the specialist knowledge needed to develop an appropriate and effective nutritional strategy. If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing but are unsure of where to start then this is where the ‘know how’ of a qualified sport nutritionist could be of benefit.

Sport nutrition is essentially the study of the science behind food and how it can benefit or impair sporting performance and fitness. What an athlete eats and drinks prior to training, whilst training and during competitions can have reverberating effects on their body composition and ultimately performance and recovery.


Carbohydrates are the major source of fuel for everyone especially athletes. Carbohydrate is a key nutrient for active players. The critical source of energy forSports-nutrition2 exercising muscles is the body’s carbohydrate stores – a little from blood glucose and a larger amount from glycogen stored in the muscles. The body can only store a limited amount of glycogen so it is essential to eat Carbohydrate every day.  Generally 55% to 65% is the daily requirement but it will mostly depend on the type of sport played (Whether it is aerobic or anaerobic)

The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) is an indicator of the effect carbohydrate food has on the body. It describes the rate carbohydrate is digested and its influence on blood sugar.
Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly and glucose released into the bloodstream over a long period of time. This will allow for a longer exercise session, improved performance in an endurance event. Ideally these are eaten before the training session or game.
High GI foods are digested and absorbed quickly raising blood sugar levels rapidly over a short period of time. They can be used during or after an event to provide energy fast.


Protein is essential for growth and repair of all body tissues including muscle and bone. It is involved in carrying oxygen around the body, production of hormones and other enzymes, and in supporting the immune system. Protein can also provide energy if glycogen stores in muscles and the liver are low but if it is used this way, it is then not available for the important job of muscle growth, repair and recovery. Ideally 12% to 15% of the energy intake should come from protein. Athletes who are growing, such as adolescents, have additional protein requirements around 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day.


Dietary fat plays an important role in the body including insulation from the cold and aiding in the absorption and transportation of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Not more than 30% of Energy requirement should come from Fat.

Competition nutrition: eating to win

Competition nutrition is more than just having a ‘good’ meal before a big game. Eating a high carbohydrate meal the night before will not replace or compensate for poor eating patterns in the previous weeks or months nor will it replace muscle glycogen stores. The energy from the pre-competition meal will not reach the muscles in time to assist performance.

The following strategies are helpful to gain that winning edge:

  1. Fuel up beforehand

Fuelling up body carbohydrate stores is a key part of competition preparation. 24 hours of tapered training or rest, together with high-carbohydrate eating will ensure well-stocked muscle fuel stores. In a tournament situation, a high carbohydrate diet is recommended to safeguard against inadequate energy reserves.

  1. Eat a high carbohydrate pre-game meal

The pre-event meal provides a final opportunity to top-up fuel and fluid levels. A complex high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal or snack is the perfect choice for a prevent meal. It is best to eat bigger meals 3-4 hours before you compete, although a light snack can usually be eaten 1-2 hours before warming up.

  1. During the Game

Simple carbohydrate drink with electrolytes is recommended during the game.

  1. Eat and drink to recover quickly after games

Most competition schedules call for rapid recovery between events. Refuelling and rehydrating should become ‘the norm’ in your post competition activities. Don’t waste important time straight after the event when your body is most receptive to fluid, carbohydrate and other recovery nutrients. There is a magic window of 30 minutes after the game during which time carbohydrate rich foods or drink should be consumed. It is recommended that 1g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight is eaten to assist with recovery. Sports drinks containing carbohydrate and electrolytes will help with speedy recovery. It is also recommended that the recovery snack contains some protein to help with muscle tissue repair, growth and development.

  1. Avoid dehydration

sport-nutrition3Unless sweat losses are replaced during exercise, an athlete will become dehydrated. Severe levels of dehydration have a dramatic effect on exercise performance but even small fluid losses reduce performance resulting in decreased work output and deterioration in skills and concentration. A good fluid intake is a crucial part of your competition strategy. Practice drinking in training so you know what feels comfortable. Fluid intake can be encouraged by making drinks cool and palatable.

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