Regardless of whether you play on indoor or sand courts, locally or internationally, access to familiar snacks before a match is crucial to performance. You don’t always have to make your snacks at home or the hotel; you can also buy pre-packaged snacks from grocery stores or restaurants. But before you eat, make sure you are getting the right nutrients.
The main purpose of pre-match snacks is to top off the body’s gas tank before asking the engine to perform at a high level. In this case, the “engine” is both your brain and muscles. Snacks can also help meet overall nutrient needs for the day and prevent excessive hunger mid- to late-match.

The amount you eat before a match depends on match time, what your last meal was, your position, and your individual preferences. Here are key considerations for pre-game fueling.

  • Length of time before the warm-up
  • Timing of your last meal
  • Your position
  • Length of the match
  • Time between matches in a tournament
  • Your individual preferences

The longer time you have before or between matches, the more time there is for your food to digest. Longer digestion times allow for larger or more complex meals. If your next match is coming up in less than an hour, stick to easy-to-digest foods or a drink such as a smoothie.

Balance protein and carbs when choosing your pre-match snack. Easily digestible carbohydrate sources such as fruit, veggies or grain provide nutrients for muscle contraction and brain function. Lower fat protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and nut butter support satiety, minimize muscle damage and facilitate tissue repair.

Pro Tip: Aim for 15-60 grams of carbs and 10-30 grams of protein in your snack.

Balanced Snacks

  • PB&J sandwich + cheese stick
  • Fruit and greens smoothie: frozen fruit + water + protein source (Greek yogurt or protein powder) + spinach
  • Dried fruit + jerky
  • Turkey wrap + yogurt
  • Energy balls + dried chickpeas

Or, create your own!

Choose a food from protein column and a food from carb column based on training session
Protein: 15-20 gProtein: 20-25 g
  • 3/4 c. cottage cheese
  • 2 string or slices of cheese
  • 1 c. firm tofu
  • 2-3 cooked eggs
  • 2-3 oz deli meat
  • 1 1/2 oz jerky
  • 2-3 oz fish, chicken, beef, pork
  • 1/2 c. nuts or seeds
  • 4 tbsp nut butter
  • 1/2-3/4 c. edamame
  • 1 c. beans
  • 2 c. milk (cow’s, soy)
  • 1/2-3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 1 1/4 c. firm tofu
  • 3-4 cooked eggs
  • 3-4 oz deli meat
  • 2-2 1/2 oz jerky
  • 3/4-1 c. nuts or seeds
  • 1 c. edamame
  • 1-1/2 c. beans or lentils
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 2/3 c. roasted edamame
  • 1 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 3-4 oz fish, chicken, beef, pork
Carbohydrates: 15-30 gCarbohydrates: 45-60 g
  • 1 piece or cup fresh fruit
  • 1/4-1/2 c. dried fruit
  • 1 c. fruit juice
  • 1 c. chocolate milk
  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1-2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 English muffin
  • 1 granola or cereal bar
  • 1×8″ tortillas or wraps
  • 1/2-3/4 c. rice or farro
  • 1/2-1 c. quinoa, beans, lentils
  • 3/4 c. cooked pasta
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 2-3 piece or cups fresh fruit
  • 3/4 – 1 c. dried fruit
  • 2 c. fruit juice
  • 2 c. chocolate millk
  • 1-1 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 bagel
  • 2 English muffins
  • 2×8″ tortilla or wrap
  • 1-1 1/2- c. rice or farro
  • 1-1 1/2- c. quinoa, beans, lentils
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked pasta

The U.S. Women’s National Team relies on pre-match snacks for fuel and familiarity when competing in international tournaments. They often travel to countries where provided snacks are not what they are accustomed to or what they prefer.

The process of preparing pre-match snacks has become part of their pre-match routine. Prior to leaving for a tournament, athletes sign up in pairs to be responsible for preparing pre-match snacks. Recipes and ingredients are packed for the trip to ensure athletes have all needed supplies.

Here is an example of the pre-match snacks and schedule from a World Championship tournament .

Sample U.S. Women’s National Team Snack Schedule

 Game Day OneGame Day Two
Snack OnePeanut Butter & Almond Butter Filled Dates

Open dates and spread nut butter of choice inside; add a pistachio or granola inside for extra crunch

Almond Coconut Energy Balls
Snack TwoPeanut Butter & Almond Butter Filled Dates

Open dates and spread nut butter of choice inside; add a pistachio or granola inside for extra crunch

Banana Sushi or Quesadilla

Spread ingredients on tortilla, roll into a log and slice into pieces, or fold in half and slice into wedges.

Whole wheat tortilla filled with:

  1. Peanut butter and banana
  2. Peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and banana
  3. Peanut butter, chopped apples and cinnamon
Fresh FruitSliced or whole pieces of fresh fruit from grocery store or dining hallSliced or whole pieces of fresh fruit from grocery store or dining hall

To ensure smart snacks are available pre-match, preparation is key. Keep a variety of tasty, nutritious, ready-to-eat snacks available, ready to throw in a backpack or cooler to take to a match. This allows you to take control of what you eat before a match rather than relying on what is available.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

Makes 15-20 balls; store in the fridge for up to five days.

  • 1.5 cups old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey

Mix honey and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Mix until combined. Roll into bite size balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Enjoy!