2017 MLB Spring Training – A Performance Chef’s Views

Spring training is a fun and exciting time for a professional baseball player and that’s why I want my clients making news for how awesome they look on the first day of training camp and not the opposite.

I feel that the real secret to an athlete’s success starts with a year-round routine of nutritionally based, anti-inflammatory foods with an efficient hydration intake program. It’s too easy to become complacent at this juncture of the season because the athlete feels that have accomplished what they have worked so hard for in the off- season. What they fail to realize is that this is only the beginning to the journey of health for the entire season. I always ask my clients, “what are your goals for this season?”, I listen, wait, and then I tell them, your goal is to stay healthy! Because health, fixes everything! So, I work with them to stay on track and I assist them in reaching their goals to the best of my ability.

Physical activity is the easy part when it comes to spring training, however, continued nutritional input is the challenge. Too often a player is tired, exhausted and wants to relax and get ready for the next day. There is no question that they need their rest, their time to themselves and time with their significant others before the season starts, however, this is when a consistent food and hydration intake program is imperative.

Staying focused on fueling daily is challenging in spring training, because the stakes are high, livelihoods are in the balance and outside influences are now part of the daily routine. As their performance chef, I communicate with my clients daily, making them aware of certain circumstances that can affect them and how to combat them. Depending on what part of the country my client is playing in, Florida or Arizona, it is important to know that the following items can affect the athletes body and athletic performance:

  • Proper fueling is so important and often overlooked in spring training.
  • Observation is the key. By paying close attention to my clients over all well-being, I can make the adjustments in their fueling quickly. Reminding them that spring training is the foundation for the entire season!
  • Communication with my client is imperative for a successful spring training.
  • A major goal of any spring training is to make sure that my client comes out of it injury free. So, I make sure that anti-inflammatory foods are consumed daily so that he is ready for the season and is feeling in optimal shape.
  • Hydration is so important, due to fact that the temperatures of spring training, and in which part of the country they are practicing in, will affect the body differently. As their performance chef, I need to be aware of this and make sure that I am making the necessary adjustments to their hydration in order to keep them on target and not cramp up while playing.
  • If solid foods, cannot be consumed 30 minutes after exercise or playing, this is where I promote nutritional snacks, customized energy bars or as many, non-labeled foods as possible.

Other factors that can affect the athlete, when it comes to food and hydration intake are the spring training time zones, daily practices and game day field temperatures, as well as clubhouse meals and snacks. These factors need to be addressed during spring training. Creating good habits in the off season and spring training, will be beneficial in the later part of the regular season when the athletes tend to lose weight from not eating and the daily grind of the game itself. This is also when injuries can creep into play.

Some of the challenges that I have found to the professional ball player, is the lack of information to the athletes on where to shop, where to eat and of course, how to fuel properly in the areas that they are living and playing in. Left on their own, this is when a lot of hard work done in the off season goes awry because the athletes come in great shape and now drop off with inadequate fueling of their bodies.

Major League Baseball’s spring training is just as much fun for the player as it is for the fans. This is when the athlete gets their feelings back for the game, meeting old friends, meeting new ones and getting familiarized with the rigors of the upcoming season. When the player shows up to the training facility, they know that the evaluation process begins with the trainers, coaches and front office. This is the beginning to an entirely new season, and depending upon what happened in the off-season, this will be either a fresh start for some or a repeat of last year to others. There is a keen awareness that their physicality is being evaluated by everyone, which includes the media and public. The key to the first day of training camp, is to make sure the ball player is looking and feeling in prime condition.