Preparation for a football game usually starts a few days before the team enters the field. Players can spend an entire week mentally preparing, studying their opponent and developing the best approach for the upcoming match. On the eve of the match, each player begins to prepare independently. Don’t forget to eat well, get enough sleep, and prepare for the big day. While everyone’s preparation methods are different, the most effective methods share some similarities, so it’s easy for an American football player of any level to learn how best to prepare for a game.
Start getting ready for the game as early as possible
- When today’s game is over, start gearing up for the next one. Mental preparation for a football game includes imagining success, eliminating distractions, improving mental resilience, and maintaining a positive attitude.
- Focus on achieving one goal at a time.
- Praise is not just for children. Don’t be shy to say goodbye to yourself sometimes.
- Even professional athletes feel the pressure of raising the stakes in every game. Whatever the stakes in the next game, stay calm and relaxed.
Talk to the coaching staff about strategies and goals for the game
- Each football game is a separate battle. Your coaches will have specific goals and strategies that they have prepared for the next game, so you and your teammates need to take the initiative and learn about them.
- Professionals spend one or two days every week studying the next match and preparing the right strategy.
- What worked in one game of the season or against one team may not work the next time or against another opponent. Find out about the changes in the strategy for the game.
Train hard all week
- You can’t be sure you’ll be at your best on game day if you’ve only worked at half strength in practice. Don’t exercise mindlessly. Understand that every aspect of training is geared towards preparing for a real game situation.
- Force yourself to work out harder to not only stay fit, but get better.
- Build in-game relationships with your teammates to improve bonding.
Preparation before the game
Eat a hearty meal a few hours before bed. A balanced diet consists of all three nutrients necessary for human life (carbohydrates, fats and protein). The ratio of these substances should be suitable for the body and lifestyle of a person. Despite this, many trainers recommend eating food that consists mainly of carbohydrates on the last night before grueling workouts or sporting events in order to have strength the next day.
While recent research questions the effectiveness of “carb-loading” (the method of “loading” complex carbohydrates the day before grueling activities), see for yourself if it’s right for you.
Go to bed a few hours after you eat so that the food has time to digest and you do not experience indigestion and restless sleep.
Make sure you have everything you need ready. Make sure your shirt, socks, boots, and other items are packed and ready for the morning. Check the weather to see what other clothes you might need.
Get a good night’s sleep. Good sleep the day before physical activity is one of the most important elements of preparation.
Don’t forget to set an alarm!
Your coaches and teammates are hoping you will show up and be ready.
Game day preparation
- Eat breakfast foods that fit your schedule for the day. If you have a few more hours before the game, eat a balanced breakfast and then fuel up with high-protein, low-sugar foods. If the game starts early, your breakfast should be light and high in protein.
- Don’t eat high-sugar foods for breakfast, which can cause you to lose energy later.
- Coaches and instructors have a controversial opinion about whether athletes should drink caffeine on game day. Take advice from coaches and teammates, but decide for yourself.
- If you get hungry before a game, keep your metabolism active by eating small meals.
Prepare water bottles, food, or energy supplements so you have something to snack on. Although consuming high-sugar foods before a game is not recommended, recent research suggests that consuming simple carbohydrates (sports drinks, jams, confectionery) during exercise helps maintain energy and improves performance.
It is very important to drink plenty of water before a game to prevent muscle fatigue.
Some popular energy bars have a laxative effect, so read the label carefully.
Maintain mental stability. Psychological preparation continues until the beginning of the game. Professional players have many different methods to help them stay focused on the game.
Yogi Berra’s famous saying that “90% of baseball is played in the player’s head” applies to American football as well. Concentrate on the game!
If your school or team has a morale meeting before a game, try to get into the spirit. Energize your body to maintain your psychological edge and resilience.
A few minutes before the game
- Warm up or do some stretching. It does not matter what it will be: fast running or lifting light weights, you need to somehow warm up the main muscle groups and prepare them for physical exertion in a competitive game.
- If during the warm-up you will not have enough breath to maintain a conversation, then you are trying too hard. Don’t rush, it’s just a warm-up!
- Find a range of warm-up exercises that are right for you. On the Internet you can find many exercises designed for athletes of different levels.
- Make sure you have the right shoes on. Do not wear spiked boots if you are going to warm up on a hard surface or indoors.
- Professional American football players often create real rituals based on their warm-up.
Before any sporting event, it is necessary to warm up the main muscle groups. After your muscles have warmed up, take the time to do a personal warm-up. According to some studies, warming up reduces the chance of injury during sports and improves physical performance.