Big Game Training Table
School sports are a great way for students to be physically active, and they’re a great way to highlight healthy eating. It is important to get the right nutrients for physical activity; additionally, after a vigorous workout like a practice or a game, athletes need to hydrate. Work with your school’s athletic director or coaching staff to plan some pregame or post-workout “fuel up” offerings.
How Does It Work?
This strategy can help make students aware of the benefits of getting the right nutrients both before and after physical activity. You can hold these “table” events once a month, once a week, or more.
The following steps are suggestions for how to complete the Play — but they can be done in any order or combination and can be altered to fit your needs. If you find ways to adapt this Play to fit your school, share it with us through the Tips section!
Meet with school nutritional professionals and the principal to get approval for your idea and to gain their support. Work with your school team to do some planning.
Get It Going
Set up a separate table in the cafeteria as a Training Table for students who are active and/or gearing up for an event. Work with your student team to conduct a poll of the student body to determine foods that could be included as part of the Training Table; then gather information on why these foods are good pregame or post-workout options.
Highlight items on the school menus that are excellent as pregame or post-workout foods.
- Include nutrient-rich foods that students like to eat — like so-called “comfort foods”— including pizza and macaroni and cheese made with whole grains and low-fat or fat-free cheese.
- Remind athletes they should always consume plenty of fluids, including low-fat and fat-free milk.
Provide information at your Training Table about nutrient-rich food items like low-fat and fat-free milk. Highlight, for example, that:
- Milk provides carbohydrates for energy, along with protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents).
- Drinking milk can be an effective way to help hydrate after a workout.
Ask your local Dairy Council representative to be a possible special guest and resource. Students will need help from the school’s Program Advisor or another adult to make this happen.
Host a meeting with the school’s athletic staff, including coaches, trainers and PE teachers to talk about the benefits of “pre-game fuel up” and post-workout nutrition needs.
Work with a local business or community organization to provide a cooler for the weight room to provide an opportunity for low-fat chocolate milk to be accessible for students.
Provide a copy of the handout Training Table Tips from the Pros to help make your case and in your promotion efforts.
Keep It Going
Work with the PE department to make low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein foods more widely available during practice and game day events. Organize a way to distribute the foods or make them available at a grab-n-go-type station.
Spread the Word
Promote the training table to students and school staff. The goal of this program is to encourage more students to pay attention to their nutrition and hydration needs before and after physical events, so advertise what you’re doing with posters, flyers and announcements.
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Set up and conduct the poll
- Gather information and create information sheets or posters for the Training Table
- Solicit donations from local businesses
- Organize pregame or post-workout “fuel up” food supplies and a way to deliver them