Interview | David Harte

After making his senior debut in 2006, David Harte has gone on to become one of the most successful male hockey players in the history of the game; 200+ caps for Ireland, two-time World Goalkeeper of the Year, Olympian, Euro hockey bronze medalist, and national league winner in Ireland, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

We got a few moments with David to quiz him on his nutrition as an elite athlete, and Olympian…

Ahead of a game, let's say the night before, what sort of meals/foods are you having? “Typically the night before a game my choice of a meal would be dependent on the time of the match the following day. If an early game the next day I would opt for your heavily loaded carb meal - pasta, potato/rice-based meal. However, if a late evening game then I would choose for a lighter meal like a salad or smaller portion size of the meals I mentioned previously”.

Do you eat much in the morning of a game? “I certainly try my best but a lot of athletes could agree that at times it isn't the easiest process ahead of a big game with that nervously excited feeling already in your tummy!”

Are you eating much after a game? Can you eat pretty much anything you like? “An area where I would struggle with over the years of playing but I have gotten better especially knowing the importance and benefits of refuelling after a game”.

Does your diet change much over the year? Are you taking on-board more calories during the summer or winter? “I think it definitely does, yes. Over the winter/autumn months I would have a lot more hot meals and would find that I eat more than during the summer (beach season period!). However, I think the difference would not be that great as I try to maintain a consistent fuel intake regardless of the time of year as I find myself in January and February often in countries like Malaysia and India competing”.

Do you eat much when you are training; do you have a protein bar or shake within easy reach? “I always have a protein bar in my training bag, maybe even 2, yes! Shake wise I would choose for after a heavy gym or pitch session and find it very useful to consume the overnight protein shake after a late-night session rather than a large meal. I am very fortunate to be sponsored by Kinetica sports who are fuelling me on my road to Tokyo 2020!”

How important is hydration to an athlete at your level? “As an athlete regardless of the sporting discipline hydration is key. The advantages of being hydrated pre, during and post competing are massive. Aiding concentration levels, recovery levels and improving overall performance I can't compete without being hydrated. As a goalkeeper with a lot of equipment on you, in particular, in countries where temperatures can reach the mid to late 30s or higher I can lose up to 2 or 3 kgs of sweat even with hydrating during the games and tranings! Weighing myself before and after competing helps me manage my hydration better”.

Max Lahiff (rugby player) came down to our studio and said sleep and nutrition are king for recovery, do you find the same? “I couldn't agree more to be honest... People who know me are fully aware of how much I love a good power nap. For me, sleeping = recovery - simple as that. Also being a PE and Biology teacher what I put into my body is vital. Food = FUEL!”

What are the most common meals in your house? Do you have to make sure you're eating XX amount of calories per day/week? “The typical meals in my house would be burritos, pasta meals, salads and I do enjoy my red meat so plenty of steaks. I don't necessarily need to have a calorie intake per se but thanks to our nutritionist from the Irish Institute of Ireland we are fully aware of what we should and should not be consuming per week”.

What is your 'cheat' recipe? “Sweet homemade pancakes!!”

Is there anything you actively avoid? “I would try and avoid consuming too much of one particular meal. A variety is important for me personally”.

Final questions away from nutrition: Do you have a favourite place to compete? “Playing hockey in India is the best country in the world I have competed in”.

Is there a particular game that stands out in your career so far? “The first game of the Rio Olympics, officially becoming an Olympian and winning the Dutch national title for the first time with my club Kampong on penalties”.

Do you have any pre-game rituals i.e. putting your left sock on first, or always wearing the same underwear? “I don't think so but I do like to have my energy gel just before leaving the changing room so we will say that's a ritual of mine”.

What piece of equipment is in your bag, that people might be surprised about (for example, a tennis ball for stretching, or a particular toiletry, or piece of clothing)? “Travel size foam roller and a resistance band”.

Follow David on Instagram for more updates!