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Preparing for Football Season Part 2: Hydration, Nutrition and Fun

About the Author: He started at fullback for Penn State University football teams that won the Fiesta Bowl, Outback Bowl and Alamo Bowl. He won state championships as a member of the Allentown Central Catholic Vikings. And he played NFL football for the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, Mike Cerimele shares his expertise with area amateur, college and pro athletes as an LVHN senior sports performance specialist.

IIn the second installment of this two-part series, former Penn State and NFL fullback Mike Cerimele gets you (or your student athlete) ready for football season with a focus on hydration, diet and fun.

Last week I shared some physical traits to success on the gridiron, including the importance of proper strength and conditioning programs. This week, I’ll look at the other end of the spectrum – the best way to fuel your body and to keep fun in the game.

1. Stay hydrated – Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink. Hydrate before your workout, then replenish during and after. Science shows that athletes perform longer and more efficiently when fully hydrated. Everyone loses water and sodium differently, so hydration needs vary among athletes.Replenish regularly with either water or sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes. They keep painful muscle cramps at bay. You’ll know if you’re properly hydrated by your urine color. If it’s clear or has a tinge of yellow, you’re hydrated. If it’s a darker, murkier color, you’re dehydrated. The darker color is a sign your body is trying to conserve water and releasing concentrated amounts of waste as a result.

2. Eat clean, and keep your calories up – I like to think about sports nutrition like it’s a car. It operates most efficiently when you use clean fuel. Athletes are the same way. So eat clean, with vegetables, fruits and whole grains, along with healthy proteins and fats. I suggest eating clean two hours before a game or long practice, and then replenishing with high-calorie, protein-rich meals postgame and practices.During summer two-a-days, you need to keep weight on. It’s more difficult to explode off the line or power past a defender for a reception if you lose pounds of muscle. So choose high-calorie options at dinner. You’re working hard, so it’s OK to indulge a bit.

3. Keep your head and make it fun – Success comes from a genuine understanding of your purpose and goals. Your ability to push yourself comes from your own self-belief. Gaining confidence takes time, effort and repetition. You need to balance that with fun.Here’s how I made it fun. I was physically prepared prior to the first game. I knew every play and responsibility in the playbook. That enabled me to fly around, make plays with my teammates and partake in the fun of football. So if you take care of the little things, the big things will come your way.

I wish you the very best this season. If our LVHN sports performance staff can help you in any way, please give us a call, send an email or stop in at one of our two locations.