It’s game day! This is the day you look forward to all week… your chance to put everything you’ve learned to practice, show your coaches, parents, teammates how much you’ve learned, how much you love the game… prove to yourself that it’s all worth it. Except today… you’re not feeling your usual self, a little slower than usual, “off”, something just isn’t right… it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly what it is (it can be a number of different things), but here are a few things to work on to improve your performance on the most important day of the week!
Let’s just say this is your schedule… as most competitive teams are:
The day before the game is a day of excitement, nerves, and maybe some questions about what you should be doing to get ready for your game.
Now here’s the secret, if you’re only getting ready for your game the day before… you’re already behind.
Now, let’s just say you charge your battery on Sunday – your game recovery day… awesome, you have a full battery for the week ahead.
But then you have fitness, and your trainer is running you HARD!
How much do you have left in your battery? Maybe 75%...
And then a tough practice on Tuesday… And Wednesday… maybe a bit lighter on Thursday…
But don’t worry, Friday you have a day of prep, right? WRONG!
Unfortunately, one day is not enough to replenish the stores you used all week, and you want your battery to be fully charged for the game, right?
The most important part in maintaining a fully charged battery is CONSISTENCY. And that is because THE BEST way to maximize your energy stores throughout the week is through an adequate DIET. As an athlete, trying to optimize performance, this is what you should be aiming for on a daily basis:
(Find your weight, and move across the table to see how much of the carbohydrates and protein you should be getting on a daily basis)
Now, what you do after practice is also very important. If you take advantage of this time, you can help restore some of that battery life a little faster.
Step 1. 1.2 g/kg of carbohydrates every hour for 4-6 hours after exercise
Step 2. 0.2-0.5 g/kg of protein with your carbohydrates
When we talk about consistency, we also have to consider recovery. The easiest way you can recover is through SLEEP. You should be aiming for 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night!
Ok, so you’ve been consistent all week, and it’s game day. You’re ready to go, your battery is at 100%... but now the goal changes, the goal becomes, how do I use as little of that battery as possible so I can still have plenty of energy at the end of the game.
Step 1. Have a good meal in the morning/breakfast if you have an afternoon game. If you have a morning game, a light breakfast is preferred.
Step 2. Have a light snack about 1.5-2 hours before your game. Some type of fruit is a great choice.
Step 3. Use a sports drink during the game. This provides extra energy to your body that does not have to be taken out of your stores! If you water it down, you can get enough carbohydrate and water to sustain you and promote performance!
Now travelling to the game is a whole other story, especially if it’s more than an hour away. Some key things to remember about travel:
Number 1. Your body hasn’t moved for however long you’ve been sitting in the car. Make sure you have extra time at your destination to just MOVE. Not a structured warm up but walking around and moving your body to get rid of the stiffness and get your blood flowing.
Number 2. Napping is great, but should not exceed 30-45 minutes, and you need to give yourself enough time to wake up before your game. That’s at least an hour!
Number 3. Remember all the things that help get you pumped up to play; favourite music, visualization, pump-up videos… do those things to keep you engaged during your travel time!
It’s not easy being an elite athlete, there are many things to think about and do on a daily basis. But remember, CONSISTENCY is key! You don’t have to be perfect every week, but the effort in trying to optimize these aspects of your training will help you down the line!
Keep your eyes open for my next blog post about some good food options that can get you the carbohydrates and protein you need!
Take care and keep moving,