Increased focus on nutrition for EHF EURO 2022 referees
It has been almost one year since the EHF secured a partnership with FITGOOD PRO, which was launched ahead of the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 and will continue at the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 in Slovenia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.
Nutritionist Eirini Babaroutsi is the latest member of the FITGOOD PRO team to work with the Women’s EHF Euro 2022 referees, following manager and wellness coach Sergi Cedrún, fitness coach Dani Ariño, and physiotherapist Maria Muller-Thyssen who also worked with the referees on-site at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022.
“Knowledge of the rules, body language, assertiveness, managing stress and physical conditioning are key for an elite referee to succeed, but nothing will work if the referee doesn’t have enough energy to cope with it. So, the EHF referees will work with Dr Babaroutsi, our nutritionist specialised in sports and dedicated to them and their performance,” Cedrún said.
Cedrún explained that Babaroutsi is focused on “health and sports nutrition specially designed for their tasks during the EURO, with workshops, personal assessments, tests, nutritional coaching, menus for match day or rest day with the same food they will find in the hotel. [She is] another piece of the technical staff for the EHF officials, like a professional team has for their players, but with the understanding of all the particularities of being an elite handball referee.”
Training and Nutrition
Babaroutsi was among the speakers at the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 kick-off seminar for referees and delegates in Vienna at the end of August. She spoke about the importance of proper nutrition and hydration in improving physical performance. Babaroutsi covered a wide range of subjects in her introductory session with the EURO 2022 referees and will continue to build their knowledge from this point on.
“The most important thing that I shared with them was to explain the need for an integrated training and nutrition plan to improve physical performance and to explain basic nutrition principles and how they might be modified to meet their needs,” Babaroutsi said.
“The key points they need to keep in mind are that an active lifestyle and exercise routine, along with eating well, is the best way to stay healthy. How long before, during and after exercising, and what is best for them to eat; how much food is the right amount for them; that water is one of the most important nutrients in your sports diet; and that changing their body weight to improve performance must be done safely.”
The referees are into their final preparations before EURO 2022 begins on 4 November. They will incorporate plenty of new knowledge about nutrition and Babaroutsi outlined key nutritional goals for the referees to keep in mind:
“I gave them some nutritional goals,” she said. “Eat a varied and well-balanced diet that supplies the right amount of energy and essential nutrients. To fuel right — choose a variety of food including foods that contain carbohydrates based on the amount of exercise.
“To strive for five — eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fresh, frozen, dried and canned all count. To refuel — if you need to recover quickly then start refuelling with carbohydrate foods and fluids as soon as possible after exercise. To think fluid — ensure you are well-hydrated by drinking throughout the day as well.
No Substitute For Fluids
“Moreover, as the tournament comes closer, they should be ready for the fat measurements before that. We will repeat the anthropometric measurements to see their improvements and after that, I will give some extra guidelines to keep in mind during the tournament and not before.”
The way referees manage their nutrition must be different from the pre-tournament phase to during EURO 2022. Not only is the preparation stage different in terms of their bodies’ needs versus during the tournament, but in the build-up phase, the referees have more control over their nutritional intake in terms of their food choices.
“During the tournament, a lot of things change because they travel more, and their nutrition depends on hotel menus. For that reason, I’ll set up the hotel menu and give them a nutritional guide with the best choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking between meals for two different purposes — either for the day of the match or for the resting day.”
With Babaroutsi’s input, along with that of the rest of the FITGOOD PRO team and psychologist Bojana Jelicic, the EHF referees will be the best prepared they have ever been — and ready to deliver a top-class EURO 2022.