Football, also known as soccer, is a sport popular throughout the world. A football match is physically and mentally demanding for a football player. It is important that players prepare physically and mentally in order to maximize their performance during a football match. It is often said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This saying is especially true in a sport as demanding as football. What a football player eats and drinks, and what practice and mental preparation he does, will dictate how ready he is to perform at a high level when a football match kicks off.
Begin your preparations early. Football practice in the week leading up to a football match is an important factor in match preparation for players and coaches alike. Practice should work on the physical fitness of a football player, while also developing the technical and tactical ability of each player and the team as a whole. Coaches must monitor fitness levels throughout a season and give feedback on game performance. Coaches should tailor practice to improve weaknesses or install a game plan for the next football match. Scottish professional football player Jack Ross explains how at St. Mirren fitness tests are routinely conducted throughout the season, and players are given DVD feedback on their performance in previous games.
Fuel your body with a carbohydrate-rich diet, because the sprinting and jogging required during a football match places a high demand on the glycogen stores of the body. What a football player eats and drinks in the days leading up to a football match will have a big influence on how he performs during the match. A football player should consume a balanced diet high in carbohydrates during match preparation. Good foods for a football player to eat include chicken, rice, and whole-grain pasta. Drinking enough fluid is crucial for the performance of a football player. The website of "Men's Health" magazine recommends a player begin taking fluids on board at least 48 hours before a football match. Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue. To avoid dehydration a player must drink before, during, and after a match.
Develop an effective pre-match routine. The pre-game warmup is an important part of match preparation for a football player. A warmup should begin with light running then static or dynamic stretching. Game preparation should then progress into individual-skill warmup, specific to the position of a football player. A pregame warmup would climax with a group warmup, such as keep-away or perhaps rehearsal of a certain aspect of the game plan.
Prepare mentally. Mental preparation for coaches consists of scouting the opposition and evaluating strengths and weaknesses. Coaches should consider potential matchups around the field when deciding lineup and formation. Coaches and players should rehearse the game plan in practice. For example, if the opposition has wide defenders who are weaker than the rest of the defense, a team may practice crosses and wide attacks leading up to the game.
- SoccerPerformance.org: How to Warm Up
- Men's Health: How Soon Before a Game Should I Start My Match Preparations?
- University of Illinois Extension: Sports & Nutrition: The Winning Connection
- MedicineNet.com: What to Drink When You Exercise
- BBC; Jack Ross's Blog: The Changing Face of Pre-Match Preparation; Monday, March 29, 2010
- Photo Credit soccer ball image by Mitchell Knapton from Fotolia.com
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