Softball tapering recovery and nutrition is more important than we think. The purpose of a taper is to reduce fatigue while maintaining the level of fitness right up to the most important competition. The maintenance of fitness is through a focus on power and team tactics while reducing volume or hours of training. Fitness does not deteriorate as quickly as fatigue which allows the athletes to keep and possibly even increase the level of fitness slightly as fatigue is reduced. As athletes train and compete through the season, even with adequate recovery, their body will develop a level of fatigue through a busy and tough schedule. Ad their studies to the mix and psychological fatigue can also contribute to the physical fatigue.
Tapering Recovery and Nutrition
Rest and recovery or, regeneration, is the vehicle for fatigue reduction and can be done in many easy ways that most athletes have access to. One of the easiest is sleep. By getting at least 8 hours of sleep, the body is regenerating physiologically as well as allowing for a decreasing of psychological stress. Another easy way to recover is nutrition. This will likely change as the team gets closer to the final competition.
Nutrition is not something that all softball coaches can have an influence on. Ok most softball coaches do not have any influence on what their athletes eat during the season and even sometimes during tournaments. There are a few things though that can be relayed to the team that will educate them and give them some choice on the decisions they make that they have control over.
Softball is not only a power sport but it is also a thinking sport where decisions often need to be made quickly and accurately. Our brains function on blood glucose which is best obtained from good carbohydrates. By ensuring that your athletes are never hungry and especially before or during competition, you are giving them an extra edge in their performance. Another benefit of good carbohydrates is that it enhances phosphagen and anaerobic glycolysis which is important in a power sport like softball.
Hydration is critical for softball because it is played outside in often warm and hot weather that has an effect on the body fluids through sweat. By hydrating well before competition, athletes will give their bodies a head start and a base to maintain during competition when it is sometimes difficult to drink large amounts of water. If they can drink 7-8 glasses of water a day during their taper, they are on their way. Another advantage of water is that nutrients will follow water into the digestive system which allows the body to use them more efficiently.
If athletes enquire about supplements, encourage them to stay away from them unless they are recommended by a doctor or trained nutritionist. There is no shortage of information on the internet or through discussions at school that is not always accurate and could do more harm than good. Red Bull or energy drinks are not required during softball competition and will be more of a hindrance because the digestion of the material in these drinks takes energy away from where it is needed.
The bottom line is that a good nutrition base that is designed for a player who plays once a week right up to the high level athlete is critical to success. It is a good idea for teams or associations to invest in a nutritionist at the beginning of the season and in the last quarter to give players some guidance in making food and beverage choices. It will make a difference.