East Jefferson General Hospital

My father, a captain who fought against the Japanese and Germans in World War II as a company commander, awarded only one silver star. It was to the supply sergeant who gave gave the company the bullets it needed to kill the enemy and the food the soldiers needed to have the energy to fight.

In the non-heroic world of pro sports, the ability to recover between practice sessions and multiple matches, such as what is happening over a two-week period at the U.S. Open, may make the difference between winning and losing. Last year at this event rained delayed our semifinal match until a 10 p.m. start and Serena Williams had to come back the next day and play for the championship.

In sports that have a pre-event meal for the team such as the NFL, the timing of this low glycemic (to control the insulin response) meal is usually 3 to 3.5 hours before the event. In Grand Slam tennis, knowing that match time can be delayed by weather or an earlier match on your court, the meal timing and composition can be in flux.

In a perfect world, the participant usually arrives to the arena about three hours before projected match time. Practice follows the arrival for roughly one hour. Then to the locker room for ankle taping. From there a meal is obtained usually of a protein source like broiled chicken, brown rice or wheat pasta. I might add that a gluten-free eating plan has gained popularity among the tennis pros. Add a diluted sports drink and later a low-glycemic energy bar and you have the basics of what happens. Then out of nowhere comes the delay.

The key is to stay hydrated, nibble as opposed to stuffing yourself, and know where you are as to the match time since TV controls the game. For more free information about pre-game, postgame meals, proper use of sports drinks, meal timing, and more you can go to mackieshilstone.com and look under the publications section. There you can download my Performance Fuel Guide as my gift to you.

Tomorrow: the mental game.

-- Mackie Shilstone

Executive Director of the Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital and fitness coach to Serena Williams.