A belly full of greasy pizza is not going to help anyone slide into home. Baseball players need snacks that give them enough fuel for a long game -- or help them recover when the game is done. Whether you're in charge of snacks for your child's T-ball team or your own band of adult sluggers, think light, nutritious and just-filling-enough.
Think Sweet and Fruity
Fruit is the right snack for players gearing up for a game or practice. Registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends that baseball players eat fruit 30 to 60 minutes before playing. On a hot day, ice pops made with real fruit or snack bags of frozen grapes are both cooling and tasty. Dried fruit might entice those players who normally shy away from healthy fare. On the other hand, if you're a fruit purist, bring whole pieces -- but don't limit the players to a single type. Fill a basket with bananas, kiwis, washed apples and peaches so everyone can choose their favorite flavor. Though dips can be tricky to serve on the field, apple slices served with a dipping sauce -- such as fruity yogurt combined with whipped topping and served up in paper cups -- are a home run with kids.
Load Up on Carbs
For a post-play snack, embrace carbohydrates to refuel tired players. Granola bars fit the bill, though the store-bought type can be high in sugar. Try making your own with minimal sugar and dried fruit for sweetness. The Harvard School of Public Health also suggests snacking on whole-wheat bread or beans when seeking out carbs; coat toast points with whole fruit jam or serve up tortilla chips with hummus. If snack time will fall a few hours before dinner, players might need something more substantial. Tuck lean meats and sliced veggies into pita pockets or roll them in whole wheat tortillas. Slice each pocket or wrap in half for a snack that won't ruin anyone's appetite for dinner.
Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. A practice or game could go on for two or more hours, and eating protein after playing helps restore the muscles. Hard-boil eggs the morning of the game or practice, let them cool and peel up the whole batch. Set out a salt shaker next to the snack setup in case players don't like their eggs plain. Peanut butter is another athlete-friendly protein -- but verify that there are no nut allergies in the group before offering it. Spread the stuff between whole-wheat crackers to make easy-to-grab sandwiches. Cheese sticks or miniature cheese rounds will please a crowd, as will yogurt. Opt for individual cups sprinkled with granola for adults; for kids, pick up squeezable yogurt tubes.
Don't Skimp on Drinks
Baseball is typically played in hot weather, and with no time limit, players can easily get dehydrated. Bring a few jugs of water, cups and a marker so you can label one for each player -- everyone needs to hydrate often. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends baseball players drink 2 cups of water in the hours before playing, as well as drinking throughout and after play. Water's fine as an after-play drink, but sports drinks that replenish electrolytes lost through sweat are better when the weather is steamy. Another snack option: low-fat chocolate milk. Not only will kids -- and adults -- see it as a treat, but a study done at the University of Texas at Austin found that the beverage helped athletes improve their performances when they drank it after exercise.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Play Ball! Tips for the Weekend Baseball Warrior Baseball; Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- American Dietetic Association: Fueling Baseball Players
- The University of Texas at Austin: Chocolate Milk Gives Athletes Leg-up After Exercise, Says University of Texas at Austin Study