Nutrition in team sports

To know the nutritional needs in team sports we must take into account the nutritional requirements, both at the level of the individual athlete and the collective. In addition, the term « team sports » includes very different sports: soccer, basketball, field hockey, volleyball, etc. Also taking into account the different modalities and profiles that we can find (children, women, veterans). Since their needs will be totally different and must be adapted individually.

Characteristics of team sports

  • High intensity intermittent exercise.
  • They are events prolonged in time (between 60-120 minutes).
  • High intensity interspersed with low intensity: walking, sprinting, jogging, jumping… which implies different demands in terms of energy use and thermoregulation.
  • Breaks of different types: between times, changes of players, etc. (These can be used to drink or recover energy).
  • Different playing positions mean that the requirements between players vary.
  • Each game is different: emotional pressure, opponent, timetable, weather, etc. So the needs can vary substantially.
  • Therefore, what are the nutrient requirements in team sports?


Carbohydrates will be the main source of energy. Since muscle glycogen is the most important substrate in this type of sport.
It is important to cover the needs of phosphocreatine and phosphagen.

Physical Aspects (Body Composition):

  • Increase and maintain lean mass to improve strength and power.
  • Maintain moderate levels of fat mass to improve agility and speed.
  • Nutrition related to training:
  • Sufficient energy intake to maintain body weight.
  • High carbohydrate intake between competitions to promote recovery.
  • Sufficient protein intake to meet training needs.
  • Control Iron deficiency, especially in women.
  • Fluid intake during the training session.
  • Nutritional education, cooking skills, especially in young people.
  • Weekly planning by objectives. Since the competitive calendar is very tight.

Nutrition in Competition

  • Pre-match intake, important to replenish muscle glycogen stores.
  • Fluid and carbohydrate intake during the competition.
  • Rehydration after the competition.
  • Food during the trips and displacements. It must be scheduled and controlled for the whole team.
  • Moderate alcohol consumption, especially after matches.
  • Supplementation to improve performance. If necessary.
  • It must be taken into account that caloric needs may vary due to several factors: position on the field, age, sex, etc. For that reason the guideline should always be personalized and adjusted by a professional.

In team sports competitions take place periodically and throughout the year, so the dietary pattern should be maintained over time differentiating the phases:basketball

  • Pre-season.
  • Season.
  • Rest periods.

In turn, the season is divided into weekly microcycles that will be repeated. To establish correctly the diet and to cover the requirements we must know which are the programmed trainings and the competition calendar.

It must be taken into account that in professional athletes the competitive load is much higher, including also competitions during the week, therefore we have less time for recovery between competitions.