A topic that could be discussed for hours on end is pre match routines, preparing well for a match gives yourself the best chance to play well and help your team.
Just like you would getting ready for a day at school/work, having a routine can lead to a relaxed, calm build up and allow you to focus on doing your best. It can range from something as simple as getting your kit ready the night before to the same warm up routine to more intense rituals such as eating the same food at the same time on the day of a match.
There are a few stories out there from famous players who’ve spoken openly about not having the best pre matches on one off occasions and had the game of their life, but in terms of producing week in week out the vast majority of us can’t get away with that for long.
There’s also the Joe Hart example before the match v Wales at the Euros in 2016 when even the commentators noticed how revved up he was in the tunnel before the game, munching away on his chewing gum looking like he could headbutt someone at any moment. Only for him to have a nervy game and overall a below par tournament. Look at him nowadays and he comes across so much calmer and later even admitted getting himself too hyped up before big tournaments.
Ultimately, everyone will have their own ideas on what helps them get ready for matches but below are some ideas on things to do before a game to help you get ready to play your best. This is also not guaranteed, but see it as giving yourself the best chance to play well and help your team.
Be prepared the night before, have your kit ready and be ready for all weather conditions. Think there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor preparation.
Think about the special moments you’ve had already from previous games, this could be a save, taking a cross or an assist, What did you do? How did it feel? Why was it special? Try to bring them back to life but don’t think about them for too long.
It’s natural to be nervous, particularly ahead of big games. Reverse it and think if I’m nervous imagine how the other team are feeling! Don’t allow those nerves to turn into panic and fear of letting your team down. Match day is supposed to be the most enjoyable time of the week after all.
DON’T check the weather forecast – we all know what the weather is like in this country, checking and seeing a bad forecast can lead to negative thoughts of the game being called off. Prepare as if it’s on and don’t give yourself the chance to second guess the weather, only for you to be surprised when it hasn’t actually rained during the night and the game goes ahead.
Think about a couple of targets to aim for during the game, it could be focusing on good communication with your team mates or having a positive start position. Something you can control.
Get a good nights sleep.
Eat at a sensible time, if you have a morning kick off its worth getting up a little earlier to have breakfast in plenty of time. Just so you’re not rushing it down and then whatever you had is still swishing around when you’re diving about in your warm up. Not a nice feeling.
Stay hydrated, sips of water as oppose to big gulps.
Have a match day playlist you can listen to on the way to the game.
Have a consistent warm up routine.
When the game kicks off, make sure your dry. You may find that the majority of your diving actually happens while warming up. Don’t use your match kit to warm up in and keep it fresh for the start of the game. There’s nothing worse than standing in goal shivering in soaking wet kit when you haven’t even had to make a save in the match yet.
Relax and enjoy.
Some of these ideas certainly helped me when I was in a run of bad form, all I was thinking about was the mistakes I was making rather than the positives.
Have a look at some players out there too and see what you can pick up from them. Ederson at Man City is a good example of a player who’s very laid back and calm, but yet so confident in his own ability.
Again these are just some ideas, find a routine that works for you and go with it. If you’ve never thought about a pre match routine before try a couple of things and see if it leads to an improved performance over time.
If you would like any help planning your pre match routines or have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch.