Three Goalie Nutrition Tips To Increase Focus and Flexibility

Tips from Hockey Mom RD

As the mom of a goalie I understand the demands my son places on his body and his mind each time he steps in the net, whether it’s for a practice or a game.  Optimum performance is always his goal. 

As a hockey dietitian I have educated him over the years about how food and proper hydration can improve his focus and flexibility. 

Here are 3 tips to practice each day to improve your focus and flexibility each time you step into the net:

Tip 1:  Water is Key to your overall performance, it doesn’t matter how many camps you attend, how many drills you practice, how many times you watch a video of your last game or practice, if you step in the net behind on your body’s water needs you will not be able to perform at 100%.   

Your muscles are 79% water, you will lack the power you need to drop and get back up when your body is not fully hydrated. 

Begin hydrating your body in the morning.  Upon waking drink 8 ounces of water, if this is too much start with 4 ounces.  The objective is to make hydrating your body in the morning a habit, just like brushing your teeth. 

Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day as a reminder to take sips and stay hydrated. When you fall behind with your water intake and try to catch up before the game you may end up with too much water in your stomachwhich can make you feel nauseous

Check your hydration status throughout the day by looking at the color of your urine, if it’s pale yellow like straw you are keeping up with your water intake, if it’s the color of apple juice you are falling behind in with your water intake.

If you want to be the best, train like the best, work like the best, and most of all – eat like the best”

-Matt Peterson, 2019-2020 Goalie, Jr. Utica Comets

 Tip 2:  Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty several times a week or every day, to increase your focus and decrease your reaction time. Studies on athletes have shown a 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA helps to increase attention and reduce reaction time, which in the net translates to a goalie that makes quick and focused decisions during a game. Aim to include omega 3 fatty acid rich foods in your meals throughout the week. These foods include: anchovies, catfish, Eggs high in omega 3’s (this information is on the carton), salmon, tuna, shrimp, sardines and mackerel.   Seaweed and algae, are the only plants that contain EPA and DHA: Nori is the seaweed wrapped around sushi, spirulina and chlorella are sold as powders and can be added to smoothies or oatmeal. 

Plant based foods rich in ALA’s omega 3 fatty acids include:Chia, Hemp and Flax seeds, walnuts, kidney beans, andedamame.

“Great Nutrition Leads to Great Performance” 

Tip 3:  Omit or limit foods containing transfats which can cause inflammation and impact your flexibility in the crease

The following list contains many favorite food choices howeverlimit your consumption during tournament weekends for optimum performance in net.  These foods include: fast food,fried foods, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and margarine.  Read the label and look for the term “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredient list, this will let you know the product contains a certain amount of transfats in each serving.    Trans fats occur naturally in animal products however processed foods account for the majority of trans fats consumed by individuals

Stay tuned for our next blog post: A Buckeye State of Mind; 

Article written by Kimberly Smith Lukhard, MS, RDN, LDN, Hockey Mom RD, 8/05/19
Sponsored by Ohio Hockey Digest
Visit for youth ice hockey nutrition information.


The Classroom Theory 

A lifetime full of learning. 

6:00 am. Groggy eyes, blaring alarm, and gravity seems a bit heavier this morning. You know today is going to be a long one, a full 8-hour job. After a quick breakfast, you hop in the car and head to the nearest building, grab your bag and head in. Your buddies are all there too, ready to put in the work for the day. First drill: Math Class.

We spend a full twelve years in a classroom setting. It becomes a routine that most kids are not very excited about. What is the goal of this life full of learning? Typically, four more years of learning. Now, let us put this into the context of hockey:

4:30 am. You immediately realize you have to be at practice by 6:00. A quick shower to wake up, a full breakfast, and you are out the door.  The rink lot is empty, and when the manager finally opens the door it hits you. The smell. Any hockey player knows it, the smell of a rink in the morning. Ice fogged over, empty bleachers, lights still dimmed. Your buddies are all there too, ready to put in the work for the day. Your situation is a little different, you are a goalie. The starter to be exact. You throw on your base layer, a pair of shorts, and grab your headphones. First on the agenda, foam roll. This is followed by a quick dynamic series, hand-eye, and finally a few sets of stairs. You head back to the room, put your gear on and hit the ice at 5:30. Goalies only. First drill: Diamond Skating.

Which situation had you more excited? Most likely the one involving hockey. What most fail to understand is that hockey, or any sport, is just another class. All of the same efforts are required, and the environments are mirrored. 

Teacher- The best coaches are teachers. Not professionally, but rather personally. They teach the game with your best interest in mind. Different players require different approaches. Some players struggle in certain areas and require extra work.

Periods- A practice typically consists of multiple drills touching on different aspects of the game, just like your class periods. Instead of math, science, and gym, you are studying angles, odd-man rushes, and edge work.

“You have to keep challenging yourself… If you don’t, the world will pass you by.”

Harvey B. Mackay, author, Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

Classroom- The rink should be your favorite classroom. It is a place where you can learn, experiment, and most importantly, fail. Drills are your practice problems. Not everybody gets it right the first time, but examples lead the way. New theories, methods, and skills are tested through some simple and some difficult “problems”, or drills.

Homework- Just like in school, hockey doesn’t end when the final buzzer goes off. Rather, it is just the beginning of a long night ahead. Often a goalie coach is not on the ice for every session. It is up to the individual player to do their “homework” on their own. Movement and tracking drills, hand-eye training, strength and speed training, breathing exercises, stretching, rolling, film, watching other hockey, reading, etc. 

“The greatest attribute of the human species is the ability to learn, adapt, and most importantly, the will to never give up, or give in.”

-Miguel Angel Soto

Quizzes- Every drill is 50/50. It is up to you to put the odds in your favor through your technique. It is you vs. the shooter(s). They either score or do not score, it is that simple. Just like a quiz, you either know the answer or do not. 

Exams- The big day, game day. You only get 1-2 per week and this is your time to shine. Again, you either know it or you do not. This is never a good time to guess. More important than the actual exam is the review. How many goals were scored? If none, watch for what you liked about the game. Look for opportunities you could have handled better. Break down each play, and especially any goal against. Always do video review, it is the easiest way to see your strengths and weaknesses in action!

Many parallels can be found between sports and education. As a hockey player, as well as a person, we must embark on a lifelong journey of learning. Where do you think players like Carey Price would be if he never watched film? Remember, for professionals hockey is a job. If they treat it like a hobby, they will not stay at their level. This is not to say they do not enjoy it. Have fun, get better, and enjoy the process.

Article written by Sebastian Ragno, 8/21/19
Sponsored by Ohio Hockey Digest
Photograph courtesy of Cris Harbaugh, MIH Photo