Nutrition for Coaches

There is always talk of optimal nutritional strategies for athletes, but nutrition for coaches and mentors is also important. Optimum nutrition strategies can assist you as a coach. Good nutrition will firstly help to keep maintain your energy levels. With an active job, it is vital to stay on top of your game by maintaining optimal energy levels.

There are many factors that can influence energy level. Your body and mind must be ‘nutritionally fit’ to survive the long and often hot days of coaching, or when you combine a full time job and coaching. You must recover from these long training sessions and other activities, as well as ensuring that your hydration is also optimal.

Well Being for Mind & Body

For a coach to perform at their best, they need to have a healthy body and a healthy mind. The life of a coach can entail unusual which can lead to reduction in priority of eating and sub-optimal dietary patterns. It is essential for coaches to look after themselves so they can conversely look after their athletes. “Do as I say - not as I do”? Let’s turn that around. See also well-balanced diet page

bananasRecovery From Day to Day

Training hours of a coach are often less than ideal, with early starts and late finishes. Eating patterns are likely to be the first to be affected. To be able to sustain these hours of work, the body needs to recover well after every day. Just as an athlete must recover from every training session to optimally perform at the next training, coaches must also recover from these long days, particularly if diet is not ideal. See also recoveries strategies for athletes

Coaches should take quite a bit from recoveries strategies for athletes to enhance their own recovery. Eat strategically through the day to prevent periods of extreme hunger. Plan your meals around the work schedule. Include a light pre-training snack and ensure a nutritious low-fat, carbohydrate based snack after training to top up energy levels. Include a lunch as this is possibly some down time away from the pool. Include some snacks during afternoon training to sustain your appetite through until the evening meal. A meal in the evening is also a recovery meal from the day’s activities. Go easy on the carbohydrate foods at this meal if daily high intensity activity is low.

Essential Hydration

Just as the athlete needs to stay well hydrated, with encouragement of drink bottles on pool deck, the coach needs to maintain adequate hydration levels. With pool temperatures, both water and external, being high, it is essential to drink fluids to combat dehydration. Dehydration is a major contributor to fatigue and not only affects exercise performance (mostly relating to athletes), but also impairs mental functioning causing reduced ability to think clearly and make decisions which effects both the athlete as well as the coach. Dehydration can also result in reduced blood volume, hyperthermia (increase body temperature), as well as reduced gastric emptying, all effecting the quality of a coach’s performance. See pages on hydration for athletes.

Managing Body Composition

There is always an importance placed on increasing levels of physical activity for health, and for managing body weight. As a coach who manages other peoples exercise routines, there maybe limited time for their own activity plans. This leads to increasing importance on diet and nutritional intake. Considering that you may be an ex-athlete yourself, you need to learn to readjust your intake for this new lower expenditure of energy. There are many “diets” on the market that help to modify weight, however learning to achieve a well balanced diet with the right amount of calories and nutrients will be more beneficial in the long term for weight control than any weight-loss diet will be. There is also less likelihood of consuming a diet that is not nutritionally balanced, as many of these diets can be. See body composition and losing body weight pages.

Summary

Optimal nutrition is not just for the athletes. A healthy diet will enable the coach to stay alert and minimize fatigue through a long working day. Eating a well balanced diet, including some activity, avoiding too much caffeine, maintaining body weight, and enhancing your immune system can all assist in optimizing your performance as a coach. 

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