victorem secondary logo teal

Fuel Victory with Volleyball Tournament Snacks

Volleyball tournament snacks are a critical part of your rotation for peak performance. Tournament nutrition tips from a sports dietitian!

Volleyball is an explosive and demanding sport that uses quick fuel for rapid movements and mental focus. The challenges and unpredictability of tournaments make volleyball tournament snacks a critical part of your rotation for peak performance.

Are you wondering what are good snacks for tournaments?

Do you already have a volleyball fueling plan that works for home games or do you mostly rely on home advantage?

Take your home-court advantage fueling plan on the road to spike your opponents with the best volleyball snacks.

Hi! My name is Jena Brown, sports dietitian and owner of Victorem Performance Nutrition counseling athletes and teams in-person and online.

In this blog, we will cover:

  • Volleyball Snacks
  • Tips for Choosing a Sport Drink
  • Recovery Snacks Between Matches
  • Tournament Nutrition Tips

Training your gut should be part of your fueling strategy. (1) Let’s take a look at some good snacks for tournaments that you can practice at home and take with you to your next competition.

Volleyball Snacks

Opportunities for fueling and hydrating during volleyball competitions are limited. 

Ace your opponents by refueling and hydrating during substitutions, timeouts, and between sets with small amounts of carbohydrates to power quick reactions and precision.

Aim for 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during competitions.

  • Sports drink (traditional–not ‘zero’ or sugar-free)
  • Energy gels, chews, or sport beans
  • Fruit chews
  • Pretzels (salted)
  • Fruit (try salted watermelon!)
  • Energy bars or granola bars (low in protein)

PRO TIP: Sports drinks can serve as a double block providing carbohydrates and fluid. If you prefer solid food snacks, be sure to combine them with fluid–preferably water or sports drinks.

Food and fluid are both important. 

Food provides energy and fluid delivers energy–and oxygen–to your working muscles by helping blood flow. (2) (3)

Let’s do a quick review of what to look for if you decide to fuel and hydrate with a sports drink instead of solid food and water.

Tips for Choosing a Sports Drink

There are many sports drinks to choose from and you are not alone if you are not sure which one is best. Sports drinks can simplify your fueling plan because they provide carbohydrates and fluid (plus electrolytes!).

Look for:

  • 6-8% carbohydrate (This is your typical sports drink-35 g carbohydrate per 20 oz.)
  • At least 250 mg sodium per 20 oz
  • Dye-free when available

Why 6-8% carbohydrate? A sports drink with 6-8% carbohydrate is close in concentration to blood so that you can absorb it quickly. (4) (In case you are wondering, these are called isotonic sports drinks.)

Soda has a higher concentration of fluid, sugar, and salt than blood which is why a soda may not be the best source of carbohydrates during exercise for hydrating and quick fuel delivery. (Soda is hypertonic.)

Sodium is the primary electrolyte lost in sweat. Many new sports drinks on the market are made with coconut water making them high in potassium and low in sodium. 

You will be able to hydrate better with a sports drink higher in sodium. Read more about sweat tests for athletes if you have a history of heat intolerance or struggle with hydration.

Dye-free sports drinks do not directly affect performance. However, artificial food colors are food additives that pose health concerns. (5) Choose clear or ‘naturally colored’ options when available and avoid those that list artificial colors in the ingredient list (Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3).

PRO TIP: Alternate fueling strategies between matches to avoid getting tired of the same foods or drinks–this is called flavor fatigue. Be sure to practice both strategies at home before a tournament.

Whether your competitions are back-to-back, within hours, or the next day, recovery should be a part of your nutrition strategy. Let’s discuss some recovery snack ideas.

Recovery Snacks Between Matches

Begin recovery as soon as possible after a competition, especially if you are playing back-to-back or have little time between matches.

Recovery should include protein, carbohydrates, and fluid.

  • Protein helps repair muscle.
  • Carbohydrates help “refill” muscles with stored energy (glycogen). 
  • Fluid helps rehydrate and deliver nutrients to muscles. (6)

Quick Recovery Snacks with 2 Hours or Less Between Matches

Recovery snacks need to be digested quickly when you have little time. This means they will be lower in protein and fiber than snacks when you have more time.

Pick a couple of favorite quick recovery snacks to practice and don’t forget to add extra fluid if you choose a solid food snack.

  • Clif Energy Bar (10g protein)
  • Dave’s Killer Amped-Up Protein Bar (10g protein)
  • Turkey sandwich on white bread-hold the mayonnaise (12g protein)
  • 12oz 1% chocolate milk (12g protein)

Recovery may look more like a mini-meal or large snack when you have more time. Let’s discuss some recovery snack options if you have more than 2 hours between matches.

Recovery Snacks with Several Hours Between Matches

Choose a recovery snack with more protein, whole grains, and a small amount of fat to help repair muscles and keep your energy level stable when you have more time.

Aim for 15 to 30 grams of protein and 1.0 to 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. (6)

  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread (mayo is fine!) and fruit
  • 2% chocolate milk and granola bar
  • Crackers with 2-3 string cheese
  • Protein bar (check label for at least 15 g protein) with fruit smoothie

PRO TIP: Add a second recovery meal or snack within 2 hours after your match if you have extra time between competitions (several hours but less than 24 hours).

Need more recovery combination ideas? Read this blog about lunch ideas for teenage athletes to discover more ways to combine foods.

Many foods can fit into a well-planned recovery strategy. Schedule a consultation with a sports dietitian (that’s me!) if you want to incorporate some of your favorite foods into an individualized sports fueling plan.

Creating a game plan for a one-day tournament is different from planning for a multi-day tournament. Keep reading for a few quick tournament nutrition tips that will help you stay fueled for performance.

Tournament Nutrition Tips

  • PLAN AHEAD! Review your competition schedule before leaving home and plan for snacks or mini-meals to have in-between matches to support recovery. (7) Meal prepping is one way to make this happen and minimize unplanned timing. {Try my favorite meal prep recovery recipe to take on the road!}
  • Bring your own water bottle–keep it filled–and sip on fluids throughout the day. Water is the best fluid choice when you are not competing.
  • Do not rely on concession stand food for during-event fueling or in-between recovery. You will perform best with practiced and well-planned snacks. If you must visit the concession stand, look for food options such as low-fat chocolate milk, pretzels, granola bars, fruit juice, or goldfish crackers.
  • Check available food options near your competition facility or hotel including restaurants and grocery stores. Review menus online and make reservations beforehand if needed.
  • Review the hotel breakfast menu and in-room refrigeration before leaving home. If needed, pack your own breakfast foods to keep your morning routine. {Breakfast is not optional for athletes!}
  • Save special (and hopefully celebratory!) meals until after the competition is over. Keep your nutrition as close to normal as possible before, during, and between competitions.

Follow the tournament nutrition tips to reduce stress, avoid stomach upset, and consistently serve your best performance.

Bump, Set, Spike to Victory

Learning to plan ahead is a game-changing strategy, and consistency is key. Plan–and practice–your volleyball tournament snacks to fuel your next win.

Download Our Free Volleyball Tournament Snacks Guide!

Interested in bringing a presentation to your team or small group of athletes? Contact Victorem for details and pricing!


More Posts

Send Us A Message

Jena Brown RD CSSD LD headshot

Meet Jena Brown

Jena founded Victorem Performance Nutrition to help endurance athletes define and achieve their own brand of victory. Over the course of 15 years, she has partnered with hundreds of athletes by leveraging data-informed custom nutrition plans and non-restrictive nutritional counseling.

Order supplements through my Fullscript store.