NUTRITION

I’m sure you will agree with me that Table Tennis is a very strenuous game.   This is especially so at a high level and for those who train on a regular basis. 

Have you ever felt hungry during training or during a match?   Are we being kind to our bodies?  If not, do we consider that poor nutrition can affect concentration?   If we are unable to concentrate properly, is there any point in training purposefully?   Are we then, in effect, wasting our own precious time and money?   Are we wasting the time of a coach who is, most of the time, giving his or her time to assist you?   How are you replenishing all the energies – physically and mentally - which you are expending?

I hope that all these questions will start to make you think about NUTRITION which, in my opinion, is an absolutely important factor of your training regime.   Similarly, to all the Table Tennis drills that you go through, NUTRITION should also become a DRILL.  

NUTRITION has to become a way of Table Tennis Life – or any type of sport or action for that matter.  

All of the above make logical sense to me.   One does not have to be a Nutritionist to ask these questions.   However, I would suggest that you search the Internet to enrich your knowledge and get some tips from the experts.   There is so much on the market nowadays and different things appeal to different people.   I would say the best treatment one can give one’s body is the most natural of sources from God’s Garden, wouldn’t you agree?   Some top players have been subjected to Nutritionists, but sadly their implementation, at times, is sorely lacking.

In discussion with Tony from Tony’s Table Tennis, he has mentioned that there are some excellent natural Chinese products for energy, endurance and concentration, amongst others.   It is a fact that the Chinese are at  the very top in Table Tennis.   Shouldn’t we learn from the Best? 

I am far from being a Nutritionist, but I have learned on the long road of Table Tennis which I have been travelling and I can only recommend that you educate yourself on all aspects of Nutrition.   You have a responsibility towards yourself if you wish to achieve what you have in mind.

Here are some notes which I have taken from an ITTF coaching manual.   The images contained in this subject are from the Internet.   There are many articles on Sports Nutrition and I will steer clear of any recommendations.   Go through some of the sites FOR YOUR OWN GAIN. 

TABLE TENNIS PLAYERS’ GOLDEN RULES

  1. Increase Carbohydrates
  2. Decrease Fat
  3. Ensure Adequate Protein
  4. Increase Dietary Fibre
  5. Decrease Excessive Salt Intake
  6. Increase Water Intake
  7. Decrease Alcohol
  8. Vitamin & Mineral Supplements (where necessary)

 PRE-MATCH MEALS

Complex carbohydrates should be eaten pre-match, for example:

  1. Breakfast cereal with low-fat milk
  2. Fruit and fruit juices
  3. Bread, toast, crumpets, pancakes with appropriate toppings – banana, honey or vegemite
  4. Potatoes, pasta, rice, noodles – though avoid rich high protein, high fat sauces

 NOTE:
If eating solid foods before competing is uncomfortable, a carbohydrate powder is a good meal replacement

Avoid gaseous drinks such as soft drinks.  During competition, bananas are a good source of energy and small amounts of water should be drunk regularly to avoid dehydration.

Sports drinks : The ideal drink is one which has approximately 8% carbohydrate or 8g/100ml, which can be obtained by diluting fruit juice 50/50 with water.

After competition or during a tournament lasting several days (e.g. Nationals), you must restore your body energy supply with fluids, by eating complex carbohydrate foods and fruit and drinking water to replace sweat (approximately 1 litre for every kilogram lost as sweat).

For maximum recovery, a high carbohydrate meal should be eaten within half an hour of competition or completion of training.

I cannot emphasise enough how important NUTRITION is to ALL PLAYERS and it is also imperative that COACHES should acquaint themselves with this very important aspect of OUR GAME OF TABLE TENNIS.  This is particularly so when working with beginners or juniors who do not have the ability to find or access resources.   Nutritional awareness will ensure a positive and continuous Table Tennis culture.

Once again, I have written this article for your benefit and I hope that it can be of some use to all Players and Coaches alike.   Please SHARE & BE AWARE.   It is in sharing that we improve ourselves and those around us.

Enjoy and best wishes for the implementation of a great, healthy and beneficial way of NUTRITION to ENHANCE YOUR PERFORMANCE!

ROSABELLE RIESE
January 2013