You are at a college showcase, with dozens of college recruiters watching carefully on the sidelines. You are running down the field, and next thing you know, you feel the back of your leg tense up and you can barely run. Your coach has to pull you off the field and you can’t go back in because of this cramp. Yes, a stupid little cramp that lasts just long enough for the game to be over. And guess what, you couldn't play. What does that mean? You may have not gotten noticed the way you wanted to. All because you didn't prepare.
I am not saying this to scare you. I am saying this to tell you how important it is to prepare your body for activity.
Many athletes don’t realize how important it is to take care of their body. They stuff their face with chips and cookies, forget about water, and lallygag through their warm up.
Think of your body as a Ferrari! Would you fill it with low-quality gas, leave crumbs all of the seats, or put the pedal all the way down as hard as you can every time you drove? No, because you would destroy the car. Correct me if I am wrong, I think each one of us is at least a little more important than a sports car, right? If you are even thinking about that, I assume you are a crazy car person.
Anyway, let’s go over 5 ways to make you a well-oiled machine.
Would you immediately turn the car on and hit 120 mph? No, you ease into it, just like warming up your body.
This doesn’t have to be a crazy stretching routine with bands and foam rollers - it just needs to be something that properly elevates your body temperature and prepares the joints and tissues for activity.
Below I outline a simple warm up you can perform before a game. It shouldn't take you any more than 10-15 minutes, and you should feel ready to go afterwards.
Jog around the field 2 times
Dynamic warm up (10 yards for each drill, 2 times through)
Lunge w/ twist
Knee to chest
Pull heel to butt
Pogo Jumps 2x5 (Max height)
Jog around the field 1 time
Not that bad, most of you should already know all of this. So do it!
Remember how you shouldn’t fuel your car with low-quality gas? So let’s not do that to our bodies.
Countless times kids tell me, “I have no time in the morning.”, or “I don’t get hungry at my tournaments.” As a coach, I do not want to hear that. Athletes need to get proper nutrition in order to compete. Just like your car, your performance will be sacrificed without the proper fuel.
Below are some great options to properly fuel your body at least 90 minutes before any game
2 pieces of grilled chicken
Slapped on a roll
Little bit of condiment of choice
Piece of fruit (apple or banana)
You can sub in whatever you want, but the general idea is - your body needs fuel. It isn’t that hard. You need to treat your body right in order to get it to do what you want - which I hope is to perform at a high level on the field.
Easiest of them all. Drink water. Remember the cramping I spoke about before? Yea, being dehydrated can cause that to happen. You should always have a water bottle in hand in order to remain hydrated. Before a game slurp down 2-3 water bottles and slowly sip on one throughout activity. Not hard and you will feel good.
This is arguably the most important part of preparation. When going into a game, especially one that has a lot riding on it, it is easy to get really nervous and think poorly of yourself.
Every person is different in how they mentally prepare to go out and perform at their best. I have seen athletes that need to be slapped on the back, very hard, to go out on the mat to wrestle. Then, I have seen kids who don’t want to talk to anyone - just want to be left alone. You also have some kids who have yet figure out their way of preparing.
A few simple mental strategies to prepare yourself are…
Imagine yourself doing well (scoring a goal, hitting your time, or saving a shot)
Listen to loud music to psych yourself up
Speak about the game and your strategies
Sitting in silence
These are just a few ways of preparing yourself, do your best to find your way of mentally preparing.
Strength and Conditioning
Working on your car is important. You always want to find ways to increase your horsepower, make the engine purr, and limit the risk of the engine burning out.
Strength and conditioning can do just that for you. Injury prevention (not blowing out your hammy), increasing strength, power, speed, and many other aspects of your game. Obviously every athlete wants to improve these parts, but do not know how or are doing it wrong.
My best advice is to find a facility near you that offers quality programming and coaching for athletes. If you live on Long Island, be sure to come on in for your assessment with Victory Sports Performance! It is important to find this in order to make sure you are doing everything you can do enhance your abilities.
A basic outline of your training could look something like this:
Warm up (soft tissue prep, mobility exercises, dynamic movements)
Plyometrics (multi-planar jumping)
Speed/Agility (change of direction, accelerating, decelerating)
Strength (squat, press, pull, hinge)
Energy System Training (conditioning)
Cool down (mobility drills, lower heart rate)
This all seems like a lot, and I guarantee that most of you have heard these things before. Crazy thing is, most athletes don’t hit all of these, and if you do, fantastic!
If you don’t start knocking these off ASAP, you are not putting yourself in the best position to succeed.
So let’s rewind and imagine this:
You are at a college showcase, with dozens of college recruiters watching carefully on the sidelines. You are running down the field, and score the game winning goal, make a game saving tackle, or juke 3 kids to go upper 90!
Make it happen!