Pre-game performance: What to do and when to do it!
It’s game day! What is the first thing that you need to prioritize to make sure that you’re going to perform at your absolute best come game time? The first thing you need to make sure happens is that you are able to get as close to if not more than 8 hours of sleep. This will ensure that your body is fully rested and recovered from the practices, gym sessions, and overall stressors of your daily routine leading up to game day. Allowing for your body to be fully rested and recovered will be the first step to ensuring that your body is going to perform at maximal capacity come game time.
The next and probably most important thing you can do on game day, is make sure that you have a big breakfast that is made up of a good source of protein and a complex carb to ensure that your body will have energy all morning to allow you to properly prepare for your big game. A great example of a breakfast that will last you throughout the day would be, eggs cooked to your choosing, your favorite choice of protein, and a big bowl of oatmeal. All of this will fuel your body and prepare you for the day ahead, and make sure that you are fueled until lunch, and/or pregame meal.
No matter what sport you are playing the best way to get ready for game time is to ensure that you have another good meal or snack about an hour before warm ups start. This way your body will have enough time to process your food and allow you to use it to your advantage all game long. If you are able to eat a full meal, this is the perfect time to increase the amount of carbs you eat, to ensure you’ll have plenty of energy. In my experience, I like to have a pre-game meal that is higher in carbs and fats so that way my body will have two sources to create energy from. If you aren’t able to eat a big meal, an example that I have found to work quite well is; 2-3 big handfuls of almonds and cashews with some dried fruit of your choice, a protein shake made with milk or something that will have more nutrients than water alone, and 2-3 rice cakes with almond or peanut butter spread on top. This way you will not have a huge meal sitting in your belly while you are trying to warm up and perform all day but you will have the needed nutrient sources to allow your body to create and provide energy.
Now it’s time to take the field and start priming your body for game time! No matter your sport of choosing, it is extremely important to ensure that you allow yourself plenty of time to warm up all necessary parts of your body to allow your body to perform at peak performance. Personally, I would always try to get to the field 30-40 minutes before our team warm ups would begin to allow myself time to roll out all areas of my body, and spend a little more time activating everything from my shoulders down to my feet. This way, by the time your full team arrives and you need to focus on team specific warm ups, and game prep, your body is fully warmed up and ready to fire on all cylinders. Every sport is going to be different, and have different demands on your body whether you are playing baseball, or swimming, but it is extremely important to make sure you prime every aspect of your body. Spend time working on your neck, shoulders, core, hips, and feet. Then spend a little more time on areas that are going to be utilized and are expected to perform at their peak throughout your game. The biggest aspect of your warm up is to ensure you are warming up with a purpose. Now go back and read that sentence again. Warming up with a purpose is the best way to ensure you are going to be primed and ready to kill it come game time.
The last and most important thing is to make sure you stay hydrated! This means bring a water bottle, and if possible bring something with carbs or electrolytes to replenish your energy stores while you are playing. By staying hydrated and adding in electrolytes and carbs via a sports drink, will make your body extremely happy, and make its job of creating energy throughout your game so much easier! Now it’s game time, and you are fully primed and ready to have a stellar performance.