Match Day Preparation
Nutrition and training for top flight players is now a very exacting science, but even as keen amateurs (and possible future superstars!) we need to ensure that match day preparation is as effective as possible.
In the early part of the season, we will include fitness training in our Wednesday/Friday sessions and the boys will pick up match fitness as they start to play matches.
Taking on board carbohydrate has to be the main goal during the 48 hour window before a match. Carbohydrate is the body’s fuel of choice for periods of intense activity, and the sooner you begin to top-up stores the better. Foods that are high in carbohydrate include pasta, bread, potatoes, rice.
Allow your body to rest
Marathon runners will generally aim to stay off their feet as much as possible in the days before a race. Given that top flight footballers are covering around 12-13km every game, a similar rule should apply. And although amateur players by and large won’t reach the distances of professionals, muddy and slow pitches can put similar strains on the body’s muscles.
Get some sleep
Experts recommend that players need around 8 hours of quality sleep for games, though it differs from player to player. Identify how much sleep it takes for you to feel fresh and alert in the mornings, and make this your routine. Try to limit the amount of TV you watch directly before going to sleep, as this will help the mind get to rest that bit quicker
It’s hugely important for players to have a nutritious breakfast on match-days. Even if you are feeling slightly nervous or aren’t hungry, don’t skip it altogether as it’s a great chance to top-up energy stores.
A Full English, though tempting, is far from ideal. Toast with marmalade or jam, fruits, yoghurts and cereals – these are the right sort of food types. Eating or drinking the wrong thing at breakfast can undo all the preparation you have done to that point. It’s also crucial to concentrate on getting your hydration levels spot on. Take small amounts of fluid on board throughout the morning and check the colour of your urine to monitor your hydration status (using the Lucozade Sport Pee Chart)
You can find a pee chart at: www.runnersworld.co.uk
Heading for kick-off
As a general rule players should not eat anything substantial within 1-2 hours before a game. Two hours before is probably ideal but some players will be comfortable eating closer to kick-off than that, particularly when they are having easily digestible foods like bananas and Jaffa Cakes. Remember to keep topping up your fluid levels also, so keep isotonic drinks like Lucozade Sport in your car for trips to the ground.
The 60 minutes
Maintaining your performance right throughout a match can be helped by drinking and eating during play. Professional footballers will take regular drinks during breaks in the game, and will often consume a small snack at half-time. Research shows that the vast majority of goals are scored in the last 15-20 minutes, both at professional and amateur levels. This is down to fatigue and lapses in concentration, so being able to last the distance is absolutely crucial to success.
Recovery for your next training session or match essentially begins as soon as you come off the pitch. Your muscles are far more receptive to storing carbohydrate in the first few hours after exercise than at any other time, so the quicker that you can get fuel into the body and start replenishing the stores that have been lost the better. Missing out on this window will prolong the time it takes for you to recover.
With thanks to www.lucozade.com