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Your New Secret Weapon At Your Next Tournament

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 12/10/14, 1:30PM EST


The foods you choose in preparation for a hockey tournament can make the difference between winning and losing.

The foods you choose in preparation for a hockey tournament can make the difference between winning and losing. Tournaments are unique because you are often playing a minimum of 2 games per day, sometimes only a few hours apart. Hockey is an anaerobic sport which requires glycogen as a critical fuel. Glycogen in slow to recover. You can boost your stores of glycogen by eating carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, bread, fruit, or milk along with a source of protein. You can deplete your glycogen stores in just one hard hockey game. It takes 24-48 hours to fully recover your stores of glycogen. Therefore, the hockey player’s diet must continually refill carbohydrate stores.  Carb loading in the days before a tournament and immediately after games has been shown to improve distance skated, number of shifts skated, amount of time skated within shifts and skating speed.     

Attention to your eating before and immediately after a game can double or TRIPLE your speed of recovery.  That could give YOUR team the competitive edge on day 3 of a tournament.

Look at your game times before the tournament begins.  Plan high carb, moderate protein and low fat (<20g of fat) pre-game meals 2-3 hours before games. Fats are very important in an athlete’s diet however they are slow to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish before a game. Hold the fries, chicken wings, and bacon for after games.

If you eat within 15 minutes after games you can double or triple your speed of glycogen recovery. Choose foods that are high in carbohydrate (50-60g carb) and moderate in protein (20g). Don’t be afraid of sugar after a game. Fast carbs post-exercise, travel quickly to the muscle.  ie: Chocolate Milk (see recipe), Recovery mix (see recipe), Sport drink and sport bar, Fruit and yogourt, Sandwich and juice. Find what works for you and make it a team ritual in the dressing room.


Heidi’s Portable Recovery Shake

1-2 servings  

½ CUP skim milk powder (available in the grocery store, baking isle)
3 TBSP chocolate milk powder (ie: Nesquick)
500ml cold water

Add ingredients into a dry re-usable water bottle.  Pack into sports bag.  After exercise, add water and shake. For smaller appetites, half the recipe.  

Tip – use a wide mouthed re-usable water bottle that is dishwasher safe – for quick clean-up, rinse bottle immediately after drinking.

Nutrition breakdown: Calories 300, Fat 2g, Carbs 53g, Protein: 20g Sodium 260mg.


Recovery Trailmix

Makes seven – 1 cup servings

1 cup  small pretzels
1 cup  nuts or roasted soyabeans
1 cup  raisins/craisins
1 cup  green pumpkin seeds raw
1 cup  sunflower seeds raw             
1 cup  breakfast cereal (ie: life, shreddies)
1 cup  chocolate chips    

Mix and pack into individual snack size ziplocks.  Grab n’ pack in your hockey bag. For smaller appetites use ½ cup servings.

Nutrition (per cup): 550cal, 35g fat, 10g sat fat, 60g carb, 8g fibre, 18g protein.


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About Heidi Smith

Heidi Smith is a Sport Dietitian and Head of Nutrition at the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph.  She has worked alongside some of the worlds top hockey players including NHL, National, Olympic, Junior, and Rep. She is the author of the practical sport nutrition handbook entitled "Nutrition for the Long Run".  Heidi is also a mother of 3 rep hockey players and understands the demands faced by todays sport focused families.