Sports demand discipline, hard work and motivation, all while taking a toll on the participant physically, mentally, and emotionally. The big game is coming up and you want to be as prepared as possible. This requires a rounded approach, focusing on not only physical preparedness but also mental.
The foods you consume fuel your body. A well-balanced diet with proteins, vegetables and fruits is essential. Supplements, like a nutritious green superfood powder, are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to improve overall health, especially in your immune and digestive systems. Consider carb-loading with pasta, rice, bread and other high-carb, low-fat foods a day or two before the game, especially if the game will last for more than an hour and a half. Carbohydrates provide energy long-term for athletes, improving strength and reducing fatigue.
We’ve all been told to drink eight glasses of water a day, but the truth is you probably need more, especially if you’re sweating a lot. Extra water makes up for the fluids lost through sweat, which keeps you hydrated. There is no golden amount of water to drink. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day as well as before, during and after exercising. Any consumed fluids will add to your daily fluid intake but be sure to watch for drinks that contain a lot of sugars and calories. Foods that contain a lot of water, such as watermelon, are also great ways to stay hydrated.
The night (or a few nights) before the game, allow enough time to decompress. Give yourself time to get an adequate amount of sleep, which is at least seven hours for adults. Go to bed earlier and keep all distractions, such as phone and television, away. Being well-rested will increase your ability to stay focused. Additional tips for getting better sleep include sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting caffeine. Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep it cool, dark and distraction-free. Ceiling fans, sound machines and dark shades can help.
A positive mindset makes a huge difference. Affirmations and positive thinking boost confidence. It is essential to believe in oneself to succeed. Try to surround yourself with coaches, teammates and friends who believe in you and overall positive people. Some levels of stress or anxiety are natural. Meditation is one method to help combat those feelings as you prepare for the big day. A quick internet search will provide you with guided meditation options if you’re unfamiliar with the technique. Visualizing yourself doing well or winning the game is another helpful approach. Other options to alleviate stress and anxiety include sticking to a routine and listening to music. Having your bag ready to go the day before can also remove the distraction of last-minute packing.
While you’ll want to avoid strenuous activity like running or swimming before a game, stretching remains of extreme importance. Exercising after carb-loading will deplete the energy stores you have tried to build up, so taper your exercise but stretch all you need to. Stretching prevents injury, increases flexibility and improves posture. Dynamic stretching, such as butt kicks or knee hugs, combines a stretching motion with movement. Dynamic stretching warms up the body and is best before the game. Static stretching is holding a single stretching pose without moving and should be completed after the game. An athlete should also dedicate time to warm up properly before the start of the game. This can include dynamic stretches, calisthenics, or jogging. The goal of a warm-up is to increase body temperature and get the body loosened up for an activity.
The big game is here, and you are ready to perform your best! Any combination of these suggestions may work for you. Mix and match until you find what routine works best for your body and your sport. Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to ensure you are as prepared as you can be.