The Stages Of Pre-Game Preparation
Most athletes know that they can't step on the field and dominate automatically, but did you know that there's actually a ton of pre-game preparation that should go into every routine? From eating right to getting mentally focused, it's less-than-ideal to ignore any of these steps before a game. Although these will vary from person-to-person, the general ideals remain the same in most situations. Ultimately, carve out a rhythm and routine that works for you, don't listen to anybody else if it doesn't vibe with you. So, if you're looking to improve your in-game product, take these suggestions to heart and begin crafting your new identity! We promise, you'll like the results.
Get A Full Night Of Sleep; Avoid Caffeine
File this one under the "no duh!" category, but it needed to be said. How are you going to perform your best if your body is only working at 60%? Especially for developing high school athletes, getting at least eight hours of sleep is ideal.
Furthermore, when athletes stay up late the night before games, doing homework, playing video games, whatever, then that often compels them to indulge in coffee the following day. Coffee sounds great in theory, but can burn an athlete when they crash and get sleepy just before kickoff.
Hydration + Nutrition
This is another one of those things that happens far before even stepping on the field. If you're trying to hydrate, don't wait until the night before as that will make only a slight difference. Instead, start drinking consistently in upwards of a week before the game. Since you lose water when you sweat and use the bathroom, it's important to constantly replace it.
As for nutrition, don't eat fast food the night before -- or, ever for that matter -- but try eating something pasta-based. The carbohydrates will help fuel your game in a healthy, cheap, and proactive way.
Take Warming Up Seriously
At the high school level, athletes often use the warm up as an opportunity to goof off, crack jokes, and go through the motions. Half the battle is mental, don't forget! Use the warm up to stretch out a difficult muscle, practice your weak foot or hand, and put yourself through game-like situations. It may be easier to fool around, but it won't be preferable when you turn the ball over, strike out, or miss the game-winning shot!
This includes shutting everything else out and focusing on nothing but the game at hand! Your friends, family, homework, and other life stresses can all wait. You may not realize it, but if you're mentally preoccupied by other thoughts and emotions, it will actually distract you from executing the most important parts of your game. Often people try to listen to certain music, zone out, and get into their good place. Do whatever it takes to get into your place of focus and concentration -- then the sky is the limit during the game.
Find Your Own Thing
This might just be the biggest factor at the end of the day -- because something that works for your teammate might not work for you. You might not like chatting with your friends, you might like listening to your early-2000's rap hits playlist -- and that's totally OK! If you need to stretch out your hamstrings a bit longer than everyone else, don't worry about getting behind -- take care of yourself! Each player learns things about their approach, style, and body before every game, so listen to yourself and tweak your pre-game routine constantly. Being comfortable, especially in hostile environments or nerve-wracking situations, is key.