Nutrition: Making or Breaking Athletes

When traveling to Chicago for the USA Volleyball Nationals, I reflected on observations made regarding athletes' access to education on nutrition.


6/13/20232 min read

In the world of sports, success is built on a foundation of hard work, skill, and dedication. However, one factor often overlooked is the role of nutrition. When seeing the hundreds of teams arrive in Chicago for Nationals this year, they all had 1 thing in common: they all had snack bags made to fuel them throughout their matches. The difference was evident when looking inside these bags. Some teams had hearty, nutritious meals with healthy snacks while others were full of sugary junk food and unhealthy snacks. Nutrition in sports may seem simple: keep hydrated, eat food that will give you energy without weighing you down, et cetera, but some inexperienced or disadvantaged athletes have trouble accessing information regarding the specifics of nutrition. My team knew that in order to get our team to reach our maximum potential, nutrition is important, but did others?

While nutrition plays a vital role in athletic performance, it is essential to acknowledge that not everyone has equal access to information and resources. Having played for several volleyball clubs, I have observed a significant difference in resources available to educate athletes about the importance of nutrition. The availability of nutrition education and guidance has a significant effect on dietary choices of athletes, creating disparities, particularly for individuals from marginalized communities, who may already face challenges in the world of athletics

It is crucial to recognize the barriers faced by athletes who may not have had equal opportunities to learn about the importance of proper nutrition. This was especially evident at the US National Girls Volleyball Tournament where athletes from diverse backgrounds across the US come together to compete. It was not unusual to see some athletes benefiting from comprehensive programs supported by pre-packed food while others lack such resources thereby depending on what was cheap and convenient at the tournament location.

To address the issue of accessibility, it is essential to advocate for inclusive nutrition education programs that reach athletes from all backgrounds. Sports organizations, schools, and communities must collaborate to provide resources, workshops, and educational materials that are accessible and culturally sensitive. This includes translating materials into different languages, providing resources in formats accessible to individuals with disabilities, and ensuring that nutrition education reaches underserved communities.

Creating a level playing field requires action from more than one outlet. Coaches, clubs, and athletes themselves can contribute to bridging the gap by sharing their knowledge and experiences. Mentorship programs can be established to provide guidance and support to aspiring athletes who may lack access to nutritional information. By fostering a supportive environment that promotes knowledge-sharing, we can empower athletes from all backgrounds to make informed choices about their nutrition.

In the realm of sports, nutrition plays a crucial role in maximizing performance for a tournament and promoting the overall well-being of us players. However, the accessibility of nutritional information remains a challenge for many athletes, particularly those from marginalized communities. It is imperative that we address these disparities by advocating for inclusive nutrition education programs and making resources easily available to all athletes. By bridging the gap and ensuring equal access to nutritional knowledge, we can empower athletes to thrive, regardless of their background, in events like these volleyball tournaments. We have to work together to create a more equitable sports environment where everyone has the opportunity to excel based on their skills and dedication, rather than limited access to information.