It’s true that your preparation for the next game starts as the final whistle is blown on the current one. However, to help concentrate your efforts on the most important day of the week, we will give you a gameday breakdown of what your routine should start to resemble!
8am Waking after 8+ hours of sleep
Gameday itself presents your last opportunity to fuel before your performance. Waking up to a nutritious and crucially energy rich breakfast is very important when wanting to top up your fuel stores. Whilst it might be a fan favourite, it is certainly best to swerve the full English option, instead reaching for a more appropriately energy dense alternative. Porridge can be a great starting point as it is full of the all-important carbohydrates and easily adaptable to individuals tastes and requirements. Extras like berries, a dash of honey for the sweet tooth’s and even some Whey90® or Vegan Protein mixed in for a higher portion of protein (for the gainers) make it a good option to start the day! It is extremely important to make sure the milk used is 100% right for you, be it whole milk, almond or another variant, make sure you have tried and tested your choice long before gameday, if you don’t and it doesn’t agree with you, prepare yourself for a long and painful day!
10am Walk, Foam Roll and Stretch
Especially towards the top end of the game (through no fault of their own, purely down to the amount of attention they garner), match days can look extremely lazy prior to kick off, potentially leading to a lethargic feeling ahead of kick off. Even at more modest levels of football, we tend to keep our activity levels to a minimum on match day. It’s a fine balance, of course we don’t want to be hitting the gym setting multiple PB’s before running out onto the field – but we can do something to help our energy levels and tissue quality before the whistle is blown. Foam rolling, stretching and even going for a gentle walk will do great things for your tissue quality, range of motion and energy levels. Keeping your hydration levels up on game day goes without saying, Hydrate90® is a great way to top up your electrolyte and vitamin stores (which will take a hefty hit over 90minutes) throughout a game day.
12pm Pre-Match Meal
Your pre match meal should include good quality proteins but most importantly solid carbohydrates to ensure fuel levels are fully stocked! This meal will often take the shape of something like a spaghetti/pasta or rice carbohydrate with a simple grilled chicken breast for instance. Though this is very self-dependant, understanding what works well for you and what doesn’t (i.e. feeling bloated, lethargic; be that mind or matter) is key. However, almost all of us will suffer from options high in fat, so steer well clear of cheesey and creamy sauces. Allow at least 3 hours for your main meal before kick-off to ensure full digestion and (hopefully) therefore a lack of potential cramps and/or discomforts. This time frame also allows for muscle glycogen to be topped up before you need to start unleashing it! DON’T make the mistake of thinking eating this sole meal well will set you up for a performance, everything that goes before it in the days previous are crucial too!
You can read our Pre-Match Nutrition Guide here for further information.
2pm Changing Room Fuel
Pre kick off is the last chance for a quick and (relatively) small energy boost to get you going. Of course, any larger options can be disregarded at this point given the proximity to kick off. A fast-acting carbohydrate source with a helping of caffeine (whilst always developing – arguably the most investigated stimulant on the market) will be sure to give you a nudge in the right direction come kick off. Our Focus90® gels contain 200mg of caffeine, which has been extensively shown to increase both the technical and physical aspects of football performance, alongside another helping of fast acting carbohydrates ensure that you will have available energy from minute one!
4pm Half Time Energy
It goes without saying that you are not going to want anything substantial here. The majority of your intakes at this point will want to be liquid based, staying on top of your hydration at half time is essential with the (hopefully) well known adage of 2% dehydration potentially causing substantial damage to your performance, reportedly (depending on who you listen too!) around a ~10% decrement in most cases. Water of course should be a mainstay, a good place to start would be 500ml gradually taken on board throughout the break, however weights and sweat rates will ultimately dictate your requirements. Hydrate90® like we previously mentioned can help to top you up when excessively sweating (we like to think you would always be excessively sweating on a matchday!), helping to avoid (amongst other more serous things) the ever-frustrating cramps that can end your game early! Alternatively, if you would prefer, our Fuel90® energy gel offers 28g of fast access carbohydrate and 380mg electrolytes.
5pm Changing Room Replenishment
Immediately following a 90 minutes match the body needs replenishing asap! Fast acting sources of protein and carbohydrate are crucial to kickstart the recovery process. With the fast paced, tight nature of changing rooms, options like a Recover90® shake and a simple piece of fruit would be a good place to start! Important at this point to recognise your involvement within the game, if you had a 10/15/20 minute cameo you are not going to need to re-fuel in the same way that a starter would. Periodising (fancy word for planning) your nutrition needs to work in the same way as your training, energy requirements manipulate energy intakes … or at least they should! Should you have only had a substitute appearance, this is a great chance for some top up running too, depending on how many minutes you played will dictate the volume and intensities of running required. Recovery sources outside of your nutritional regime will depend upon your turnaround time. If you have a game upcoming on the Tuesday evening (very common in the football league & non-league), the recovery process becomes a lot more pressing. Therefore, something like an ice bath might be something you want to build into your routine (only use when necessary though – it’s like anything in life, diminishing returns if you overuse). If it’s a standard 7-day turnaround then you can become a lot more relaxed in your post-game routine, whilst a lot of people still like the traditional ‘cool down’, there isn’t a lot of science out there saying its likely to reduce injury or your recovery time following a match. Maybe icing impact injuries and rolling out some sticky muscles is as much as you need to do immediately following a performance with a 7-day turnaround.
7pm Evening Fuel
Whilst the refuelling and rehydration starts immediately in the changing room following a match, the realities and constraints that come with changing room fuel are obvious. The likelihood of seeing a full-on meal get wheeled through to your massive changing room are realities seldom found outside of the premier league! Therefore, the evening meal needs to be an inclusive source of carbohydrates (normally a potato, pasta or rice source), proteins (meat or fish source) and the ever under played micronutrients (a range of vegetables). The most essential of these of course being carbohydrates following such a draining performance to re-top up energy reserves, though proteins too are a necessity given the amount of muscle damage that will have occurred over the 90 minutes. These sources in the evening meal are usually a slower absorbing source to allow the restoration to continue, following the quicker acting changing room options.
Click here to read more about The Importance of Carbohydrates for Footballers
Now is the time to play with your gameday routine. Whilst we offer a multitude of suggestions here, it is about your ability to self-assess what you need and when. Be sure to tinker, but never try things for the first time on game day! Trial, retrial and execute on training days before bringing it all together on game day. Good Luck!