Softball players tend to have varying levels of training, depending primarily on the time of year. It is important that a player’s food schedule match their training schedule. Once the season begins, games are typically played most days of the week. At the height of softball season, players are not training as intensely so diets should focus on clean, healthy eating. There is little room for high-fat, high-sugar

Jennifer DeWall RDN, CSSD, LD

Jennifer works with ICYF to provide expert advice on sports nutrition and healthy eating to the student and families of Indianola. A registered dietitian/nutritionist, Jennifer owns a private practice that focuses on helping athletes stay on the cutting edge with superior nutrition.

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Nutrition recommendations for softball players should focus on ways to maintain a proper body composition for optimal performance. Successful softball players tend to be strong and powerful. Maintaining a healthy body composition for your position is vital to optimal speed and agility. Softball can involve long hours of low intensity activity with only short bursts of high energy output. To maintain a healthy weight without losing your strength and power follow these guidelines.

focus on nutrient dense carbohydrates

Focus on eating carbohydrates that are nutrient dense. Limit starchy, refined carbohydrates that are typically high in sugar and fat. These foods have been stripped of their natural vitamins and minerals with only a fraction of them then getting added back in to the product.

Carbohydrate choice Better carbohydrate choice
bagel whole-wheat toast, English muffin or flat bread
rice quinoa
100% orange juice orange
Pop – Tart Special K breakfast sandwich
Soda/sports drink plain water
candy bar almonds or peanuts
french fries / potato chips baked chips
white pasta Whole grain pasta
crackers Veggies and hummus
Sugary cereal Oatmeal, healthier cereals*

Eat Lean Protein

Eat enough protein to build and/or maintain muscle. Lean protein sources include fat free and low fat dairy products, lean meat, beans and eggs. For a more detailed list, see the ICYF “Athlete Shopping List.” Softball players should be consuming approximately 1.8 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. To ensure proper intake, work with a sports dietitian/nutritionist.

Weight (pounds) Approximate Daily Protein (grams)
120 98
130 106
140 115
150 123
165 135
180 147

Fuel properly at tournament time

Being properly fueled before walking onto the field is important. Your pre-game fuel should leave you neither full nor hungry. During tournament time it may be best to have mini-meals throughout the day to keep energy levels high and enhance your recovery between games. Snacks such as yogurt, fruit, crackers and nutrition bars should be readily available. Have a team cooler available so that players are selecting healthier options and not limited to what may be available at the concession stand or a nearby gas station. Visit the ICYF “Food to Fuel when on the Move” guide for a list of items to stock in the team cooler.


Hydration before, during and after training and game-time should be well planned, especially given the typical summertime climate. Drinking large amounts of water in the minutes beforehand is not an optimal way to hydrate and can leave you with a “sloshy” stomach in the opening minutes of play. Dehydration (2-3% loss in body weight (1) or just a bit over 3 pounds for a 165-pound player) can slow pace and decrease reaction time. Players should sip small amounts of fluid during training and regularly throughout the day.


• Start hydrating about 4 hours before practice or competitions so that you are able to excrete any excess fluid as urine before you compete.

• If you are training for 60+ minutes, sip 4-6 ounces fluid every 15 minutes. A sports drink may be necessary.

• On days where you are training intensely, for every pound lost, replace with 24 ounces of fluid.

• Carry a water bottle with you during the day to help achieve your fluid goals. One sip of water is equal to about 1 ounce.

Hydration during practices and games is also critical. If you are playing for more than 60 minutes then a sports beverage may be needed. Sports beverages can allow you to keep your blood sugar levels within normal limits to allow for immediate energy and split-second decision making. Your brain relies on glucose for its primary fuel source. Without (glucose,) your blood sugar can drop and cause impaired mental acuity.

In order to play at your optimal level, clean eating, a healthy weight and hydration are your secret weapons to winning. For more information or a personalized plan, work with a registered dietitian/nutritionist that is board certified in sports dietetics.

1. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, March 2009, Volume 109 Number 3 p. 509-522.