Example pre-match meals

Pippa Plum

Timing of meals:

Ideally, the pre-game/training meal should be approximately 2-3 hours before the start of game time.

This allows for optimal digestion of food, which is important for a comfortable stomach during play. Many athletes under perform because of stomach cramps, nausea and even vomiting caused by eating the wrong foods at the wrong time before exercise.

If time is at a premium, for instance an early morning training session, a minimum of one hour should be allowed for digestion.


Baxter breadPre-match/training Foods and Fluids
  • Carbohydrate and energy-rich foods – breads, rice, pasta, cereal, fruits, vegetables. Choose whole grain and whole-wheat options for more fibre, which can help with a more steady energy release.
  • Small amounts of protein (1-2oz) such as lean meat, 2 tbsp peanut butter, ¾ cup low fat yogurt, 1 cup milk or ½ cup cottage cheese, 1 egg
  • 1-2 cups of fluid, the ideal choice being water or milk to pre-hydrate the body.  Fluids should be sipped slowly over the 1-2 hours before, to avoid a full bladder during exercise session
  • Liquid meals such as smoothies and meal replacement shakes work well about 1 hour before and are recommended if player is anxious.
  • Foods that are familiar, commonly eaten by the athlete and easily digested.
  • Avoid high sugar and high fat foods – cream-based soups and sauces, burgers, fries, chips, chocolate. These take longer to digest and can result in stomach and digestion issues

Quantities and Food GroupsCrissy Cheese

There is no generic formula to follow as sport nutrition guidelines for children and youth athletes have not yet been clearly established
–  Adult guidelines recommend:

  • Approx. 1g carbs per kg of body weight
  • 5-10g of protein
  • 1-4 cups of fluid

If you don’t have time to carb count, junior athletes need to follow these guidelines:

  • Depending on the time of day, eat the same amount as what you would if eating your normal core meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Ensure that foods follow the game winning guidelines above – high carb, moderate protein, low fat and fluid needs are met
  • Now, add a little bit of extra carb – like ½ to 1 fruit, ½ cup of 100% juice, ½-1 slice of toast, 6 crackers.


Top shelf pre-game, pre-practice meals for the junior athlete

Note: Meals quantities suit athletes that weigh between 22 to 45 kilos (3 ½ to 7 stone).

Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals
1 1 cup wholemeal cereal
+ 1/2 cup milk
+ 1/2 banana
1 instant porridge pack
(flavoured is ok, but plain is ideal) + 1 cup chocolate milk
+ ½ cup berries
+ 1 cup water
1 piece toast with jam+ 1 hard boiled egg + 1 apple + 1.5 cups
Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals
2 oz grilled chicken on thick, preferably whole wheat pitta
+ apple + 1 cup milk
Peanut butter/jam sandwich on whole wheat
+ 1 cup carrots
+ 1 cup 100% fruit juice
1 cup pasta
+ ½ cup tomato sauce
+ 1 cup chocolate milk
Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals Pre Match Meals
1.5 cups rice stir fry with lean beef/chicken and/or veggies
+ water
Medium baked potato with tuna
+ 1 orange
+ 1 cup water
1 granola bar (2 pieces)
+ 1 fruit yogurt
+ 300ml 100% fruit juice box
+ 1 cup water

For the lighter appetite, early morning rush or nervous stomach:

Pre Match Meals
2 oz grilled chicken on thick, preferably whole wheat pitta
+ apple + 1 cup milk