What your [tag]basketball players[/tag] eat every day can have a big effect on how they perform. What they eat right before a [tag]basketball game[/tag] can be critical. Wrong choices can be disastrous. Right choices can give your team that competitive edge.

While the pregame meal is critical to supplying your [tag]basketball[/tag] players with the energy they need,“  it does not “make-up” for poor nutrition throughout the week.  Basketball players should eat the right kinds of food for several days before a game to charge up their muscles with glycogen. Glycogen is a key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. Although the pregame meal won’t cause large increases in muscle glycogen, it will:

* Help avoid hunger during the game

* Stablize blood-sugar levels and add some food energy to complement existing energy stores of muscle glycogen

* Hydrate the body (supply water to the body’s cells)

* Provide a relatively empty stomach at game time

* Prevent gastrointestinal upset or other adverse reactions to food

No one [tag]pregame meal[/tag] is right for every basketball player,“  but some food choices are much smarter than others. Make sure you meet with your team and encourage them to follow these guidelines:

* Allow enough time for digestion. Eat the meal at least two hours before an event.

* Choose a food that’s high in starch. Starch is easy to digest and helps steady“  blood sugar.

* Consume only moderate amounts of protein. Protein foods take longer to digest than starch.

* Limit fats and oils. They take too long to digest and will leave your players sluggish on the court

* No Candy Bars!“  Sweets can cause rapid energy swings in blood sugar levels and result in low blood sugar and less energy.

* Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the body to increase urine output, which can contribute to dehydration problems, and a full bladder can be very uncomfortable.  Talk to your basketball players about what food and drinks contain caffeine

* Within these guidelines, encourage your players to chose foods they like to eat.

* Fluid-UP- make sure you players are drinking water in the locker room before your games.