Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning

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Umpires: Refueling During, Between and After Games

PBSCCS was recently contacted by an umpire who wanted to know what he could do to improve his stamina and performance when working 2-3 games per day. He said that he seemed to be dragging between games and wondered if there was something that he could eat between games that would provide more energy and help improve performance on the field. PBSCCS submitted this question to several sports nutritionists and the following was prepared from their responses.

Between game and post-game meals and snacks are essential if you’re working more than one game per day and games on consecutive days. Your first objective to make sure that you consume a quality breakfast before leaving home or on your way to the game (http://baseballstrength.org/umpires-eating-before-morning-games/). Second, make sure to hydrate and eat something as soon as possible between and after games, because your snacks and meals provide the nutrients needed for energy, muscle repair and recovery. The sooner you start replacing energy and the recovery process the better.

During games. If you had a solid breakfast, your primary objective during games should be to stay hydrated. Water is the primary source of fluids for games lasting an hour or less. Sports drinks are recommended for games lasting longer than an hour. The key is to staying hydrated is to drink on schedule, consume 6-8 ounces of cold fluid every 15-20 minutes (inning or half-inning). If you feel tired or get hungry during games, hydrate and eat a banana or consume a gel pack, sports beans or sports drink.

More than one game/day. What you eat and drink and how much you consume between games is determined by the amount of time you have between games. The more time between games, the more food you can consume and digest and vice versa.

  • If you have two hours or more between games, hydrate and consume approximately 700-800 calories. Acceptable options include an 8-ounce turkey sub with baked chips, fruit juice or sports drink and an apple or orange; nut-butter and jelly sandwich and grapes; granola bar and banana; and fruit yogurt, nuts and dried fruit.
  • If you have an hour between games, hydrate and consume about 300 calories from items like a cereal or granola bar, gels, sports beans, chews, fruit, pretzels or sports drink.
  • If you have 30 minutes between games, hydrate and consume about 100 calories in the form of fruit (banana or orange), yogurt, salted pretzels or sports drink.

Between game days. Your goal between games on subsequent days is to start to rehydrate and initiate the recovery process as soon as possible after your last game. A recovery drink like a Muscle Milk, Core Power, Boost, low- fat chocolate milk, fruit juice, sports drink or fruit smoothie is the perfect way to start refueling, especially if you have to wait in a restaurant or drive a long distance to get home. Not only are they portable, they are an immediate way to reload your body’s glycogen stores. Drink one within 30 minutes of activity, because that’s the optimal recovery window.

About an hour later, follow up with a high-carb, protein-rich, low-fat solid meal. If you’re at a fast-food restaurant, try a grilled chicken wrap or a lean hamburger. Hold off on high-fat toppings such as bacon and extra cheese. While one slice of cheese is a good source of calcium and protein, extra slices tend to add more fat than nutrients. Make sure to include carbs in your post-workout dish. If your burger comes with fries, substitute a baked potato. Depending on your caloric needs, you can add a salad, piece of fruit or cup of fruit juice. One third of your meal should be lean protein, one-third should be carb-rich foods and another third should be a fruit or vegetable. “You need the whole balance, not just protein or just carbs.”

For a good fast-food meal, try a carton of low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk, Boost, Ensure or Muscle Milk with a Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger and baked potato. While it might be fast food, it’s high in carbs (65% carbs) and protein (21% protein), low in fat (14% fat) and provides a lot of energy (840 calories).

If you’re eating at home, try a ham or turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with mustard rather than mayo.  And load up on the veggies – lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc. Wash it down with a glass of low- fat milk or low-fat chocolate milk, and top it off with a banana, apple or grapes.

If you are eating at a sit-down restaurant, good options include:

  • Grilled chicken breast, baked potato, vegetable and dinner roll
  • Chicken or beef fajitas with rice and vegetables
  • Pasta and chicken in a tomato or marinara sauce
  • Grilled chicken sandwich, side salad and applesauce
  • Turkey club, baked potato and fruit cup
  • Steak kebabs and rice
  • Roast beef, mashed potatoes and salad
  • Hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, baked potato, side salad and juice.

For more information, see the following references:

  1. Bonci, L. Sports Nutrition for Coaches, Human Kinetics, 2009.
  2. Coleman, E. and S. N. Steen, Ultimate Sports Nutrition, 2004.
  3. Mangieri, H. R. Fueling Young Athletes, Human Kinetics, 2017.
  4. Troup, Rasa, What are good meals to eat before a tough workout or game? http://baseballstrength.org/what-are-good-meals-to-eat-before-a-tough-workout-or-competition-by-rasa-troup-rd-ld-cssd/
  5. US Olympic Committee, Athletes Plate, http://coachrey.com/volleyball-blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/USOC-Nutrition-Guide.pdf

 

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