Nutrition & Hydration: Do players need supplements to improve performance?

Mike Bracko

Mike Bracko is a skating coach, skating researcher, strength & conditioning coach, and fitness educator. He holds a Doctorate degree in Exercise Science and Biomechanics and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach through the NSCA. He played hockey in the AJHL, BCHL and NCAA (University of Illinois-Chicago). He does skating clinics with 300–400 hockey players every year specializing in 1-on-1, small group, and team skating with male and female players ranging in age from 8 years old to pro players.  He is also the strength & conditioning coach for the USA Men’s Deaflympic hockey team.  [email protected]

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Read on for a sensible approach to taking supplements.


Improved performance is a combination of conditioning, proper sleep, hydration, mental strength, playing well, and nutrition. Some players think nutritional supplements are necessary to improve performance, however, supplements are only necessary if an athlete is not eating a proper nutritious diet.

What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements, taken to enhance performance, come in many forms: tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, gummies, and bars. Some of the most common ingredients in supplements are amino acids, protein, creatine, and caffeine. According to one estimate, retail sales of “sports nutrition supplements” were $16.6 billion for 2019.

Some dietary supplements can help an athlete get adequate amounts of essential nutrients if he or she is not eating a healthy variety of foods. But it is important to understand that supplements cannot take the place of food in a healthy diet.

Read on for a sensible approach to taking supplements . . .



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