If we are honest with ourselves cue-sport players may not always have the best of diets.
This probably first started for most at the local club, pool hall or bar where Burgers, Fries, chocolate bars and the good old cheese and ham toastie played the main role in our eating habits, all washed down with a few cans of cola or these days an energy drink.
If we continue to be honest with ourselves we often would have had those thoughts of “This isn’t great for me” too where awareness sets in but reality tells us that we will probably do the same tomorrow.
Even when we progress in the sport, days on the road living in hotels and visiting various venues will most likely encourage us to continue this amazing diet where we give in to the limited menu’s that come to hand within arm’s reach.
However if we want to become a professional or achieve as much as we can as a professional our eating habits are going to play a big part of that and can make a big difference to our performance.
Cue sports require not only technical skill but also good stamina, mental strength, high levels of focus and solid decision making qualities. To achieve our goals in such a demanding sport we need to be placing the right fuel into our tank and making sure that we have a balanced and nourishing diet, this also includes keeping correctly hydrated.
Nutrition in cue sport Performance:
A well planned and balanced diet plays a crucial role in supporting a cue sport players mental and physical performance, helping them to maintain their wellbeing during not just a match but for the length of what could be long gruelling Tournaments.
Some key ingredients that can help focus, stamina and decision making are: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are found in oily fish such as Salmon, mackerel, kippers and other foods like walnuts and chia seeds and have been found to improve our cognitive function and concentration which can potentially improve our focus and decision making. Complex Carbohydrates: Slow releasing carbohydrates like whole grain foods, vegetables, bananas and sweet potato provide a slow and constant release of energy sustaining stamina throughout long matches. Antioxidants: Some foods are considered good at improving blood flow to the brain which in turn helps with cognitive focus and function. Such foods as dark chocolate, leafy greens and berries fit into this category. Lean Proteins: Chicken, Turkey, Tofu and fish can all help with muscle growth and repair, which in turn can help support stamina while performing and competing. The Importance of keeping hydrated:
Although it can vary due to age and sex our bodies are roughly around 60% water but this can average between 45 – 75%.
Hydration is hugely important to our overall health and to some may surprisingly play an especially significant role in Cue sports performance due to the areas it can help.
We should look at drinking at least 2 – 3 litres of water a day that equates to around 8 – 12 cups to maintain proper hydration and bodily functions.
Water should be sipped frequently during matches with large amounts just before games avoided to prevent discomfort.
Energy drinks should be avoided as well as drinks that contain large amounts of sugar such as fizzy drinks.
These can provide quick bursts or energy that are short lived but can also feed feelings of anxiety and nerves.
Instead drinks that support electrolyte balance can be a good idea such as sports drinks or coconut water, fruit juices or smoothies especially after long intense matches.
As with many things that we can look to improve upon in cue sport many look for that extra 1 0r 2% that can make a difference against our opponents or when crossing that finish line. Our Diet is definitely one of those areas and these days most cue sport players at the top will be aware of its importance.
Making changes can at first be difficult and with diet this is no exception especially when we find ourselves eating by convenience but with preparation and some planning we can make this far easier and form a much healthier and helpful habit that provides us with the correct fuel necessary to gain optimal performance and to compete at the top of our ability.
Often it can be thought that finding more helpful foods for our performance will be extremely difficult due to the conditions found while playing in tournaments however prier preparation using lunch boxes or talking with hotel/restaurant staff can greatly help as often they can prepare and cook meals not listed on the menu.
An example of an appropriate diet plan to help with Stamina, focus and decision making is listed below, It is important to personalise any diet to suit your needs while also accounting for any allergies. A nutritionist or sports dietitian is a great way of gaining a customised plan for your own individual requirements: Breakfast A bowl of porridge / oatmeal topped with mixed berries and a tablespoon of honey A glass of fresh orange juice A cup of green tea for added mental focus.
Main Alternative – Salmon with wholegrain toast and poached egg
Mid-Morning Snack: A handful of walnuts or almonds for a healthy boost
A banana for quick energy.
Grilled chicken breast or oily fish such as mackerel for protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
A serving of brown rice for slow-release energy.
Steamed vegetables e.g. broccoli, spinach, or asparagus for vitamins and minerals.
Meal 4: Afternoon Snack:
Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chia seeds for protein and essential nutrients.
Carrot and celery sticks with hummus
Grilled lean meat - chicken, turkey, or lean beef for protein.
A generous serving of leafy greens and colourful vegetables for vitamins and minerals.
Sweet potatoes for complex carbs.
A small portion of fruit for natural sugars.
A Smoothie with, banana, and almond milk for muscle repair and recovery.
A small handful of mixed nuts for healthy fats.
Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks, as they can lead to energy crashes, these can also feed anxiety
Incorporate foods high in brain-boosting nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids - fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and antioxidants - blueberries, dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables).
Opt for lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats to provide a steady release of energy.
Consider consuming smaller, frequent meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels and sustained energy.