The Best Meal to Eat Before Basketball Tryouts

Low angle view of African woman holding basketball outdoors

Basketball tryouts test a player's skills and conditioning in an intense, pressure-packed environment. To survive grueling sessions of conditioning, drills and scrimmages, a player needs plenty of energy and fluids from his pre-workout meal. However, picking the right kinds of foods could make the difference between earning a spot in the starting lineup and not making the team.

The Right Carbohydrates

Most basketball practices will incorporate grueling conditioning tests, such as a series of progressive sprints up and down the court; they'll likely include intervals of defensive slides or vertical jumps. A player can find the energy she needs to propel her through these drills by eating complex carbohydrates during her pre-workout meal. Complex carbohydrates break down slowly in the body to provide lasting energy; they should comprise about two-thirds of an athlete's plate during a pre-workout meal. Complex carbs are found in foods such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta or oatmeal. However, simple carbohydrates, which provide a quick rush of energy from sugar or refined flour, can cause an athlete to crash after receiving an initial burst of energy; they should be avoided.


A player can find a natural, portable and easily digestible source of carbohydrate energy and essential vitamins and nutrients in everyday fruits. Bananas, apples and oranges offer a player plenty of carbohydrates to fuel his performance. Even better, bananas pack plenty of potassium, which can prevent cramps; oranges bolster an athlete's immune system with rich doses of vitamin C. Juicy, sweet fruits like melons, berries or cantaloupe contain up to 80 percent water, helping to keep an athlete hydrated even as he sweats during an intense tryout.


A basketball player can benefit from eating a small portion of protein prior to a tryout, but she must choose her protein sources carefully. The body digests proteins more slowly than carbohydrates, so a basketball player should only include protein in her pre-workout meal if she is eating two to three hours before the tryout session. A player must also choose protein from lean sources such as soy, nuts or low-fat milk; he should avoid fatty or greasy fried foods, which can slow digestion and leave an athlete feeling sluggish.

The Right Combinations

If an athlete sits down to a pre-workout meal three to four hours before the tryout begins, he can comfortably eat a light meal combining complex carbohydrates, proteins and fruits. However, as the tryout session nears, a player should make his portion sizes smaller. An hour to 90 minutes before practice, a player should forgo a full meal and opt instead for a smaller snack, such as fruit and a serving of nuts or trail mix. A player could also quickly fuel himself for a tryout session with an energy bar or shake, packing carbohydrate energy and a small dose of protein into a small, easily digestible serving.