Many players at a recreational level will simply turn up on the day of a game and carry out a short warm-up before taking to the pitch, however your performance will be impacted by both how well you prepare your body and mind ahead of kick-off. Baring this in mind, let’s take a look at the most important things to do before game time.
Prepare Your Mind and Body
Preparation for a football match begins immediately after the previous encounter has finished, with this concept undoubtedly helping players to improve their focus throughout the season. Rather than simply waiting until the night before or even the morning of a match, start to think about what type of challenges may lie in wait in the next fixture, including any potential opponents or areas for improvement after a disappointing display.
Meanwhile, ensuring that your body is in as good a condition as possible ahead of kick-off is also crucial, which is achieved by sticking to a healthy diet, as well as exercising and resting at a recommended level. Be sure to stay away from alcohol before a match, being sure to energise your body with an appropriate meal immediately before a fixture.
Former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry used to discuss how he would think about a series of in-game scenarios in his head before a match, meaning that he would have a better idea of what to do if it did indeed occur during the 90 minutes. Whether it be facing an opponent who has gotten the better of you in the past or supporting a team mate in the absence of a first-team regular, positive reinforcement by thinking is a tried and tested pre-game preparation tool.
Have a Chat With Your Coach
Mental preparation for a match includes discussing certain things with your coach ahead of kick-off, whether it be to receive a particular piece or tactical guidance or a confidence boost after a poor run of form. Do not be afraid to ask for advice, as well as what they are expecting of you throughout the game.
Stretching and Warming Up
The warm up for many players is likely to involve some form of jog and perhaps some half-hearted stretches, which will mean that you are not fully prepared for the intensity of a competitive match, while you are also at higher risk of collecting an avoidable injury. Be sure to carry out a stretching routine at home beforehand, paying particular attention to any areas of concern. As well as this, be sure to recreate in-game situations in terms of your movements, including warm up sprints, changes of direction and jumps. Doing so will mean that you are ready for action from the first whistle until the last.
Listen to Your Body
Part of your preparation also involves listening to what your body is telling you, with overexerting yourself only likely to lead to injury or exhaustion. However, there is also the risk that you are not doing enough to push yourself, which will mean that you are not at your physical capacity, with it being hugely important to find the right balance before a big match.
For youngsters, sport should really only be about one word, fun! However, ensuring that organised physical activity is enjoyable is easier said than done, with everyone having different personalities and needs in this area. So, just how can coaches ensure that they consistently put on engaging sessions?