Welcome to the highly anticipated second instalment of the Pre-Match Preparation Guide, specifically designed to let you know how to best prepare for your big game.
We know it’s hard to find info on how to prepare for football matches which don’t basically instruct you to limit your life during the week – this series is focused on optimising everything you do on the day of the game itself, allowing you to go on a five-day bender during the week before…
After last week’s look at pre-match Food, I’ll be completing the nutritional side of things by evaluating what drinks are best to have on match day.
Week 2: Drink
Unsurprisingly, the general rule for this week is ‘Drink, and keep drinking’, but what are the best drinks to have, and how much is enough? This kind of information is often slightly corrupted by companies who want you to buy their products. Here I’ll be clearing up any confusion created by their marketing spiel.
Firstly, hydration is incredibly important, really, much more important than you’re likely to imagine. If you’re sufficiently hydrated, you’ll be much more alert, and your game will improve significantly.
In order to get fully hydrated, you’re going to have to be drinking water throughout the morning. Aim to drink 3 litres (about 6 pints) before the warm up. Your piss should be colourless a full 2 hours before you start warming up.
During the warm up you should still be drinking heavily, take a 2 litre bottle with you to the game to have during the warm up and breaks in the match.
It may seem a lot, but it’s a necessity to optimise your performance (and even more so if you went out the night before).
What Are The Best Drinks To Have?
Everyone knows that water is a safe option, it’s free from the tap and will do a good job hydrating you for any sporting activity. However, in recent years, lots of different ‘isotonic’ drinks claiming to help restore vital nutrients have come onto the market – are they a better option?
The reality is, that for a 90 minute match the benefits of isotonic drinks over water are relatively negligible as the main hydration concern for footballers is to replace fluids lost through sweat, which water does just as well. However, the electrolytes contained in isotonic drinks, such as Gatorade, are important for maintaining salts balance within cells in the body after periods of exercise and during long exercise sessions.
Isotonic drinks have been proven to be effective to help marathon runners gain that extra bit of stamina, so if you are particularly unfit, it might help you a little bit, but what would help you more is hopping on a treadmill a couple of times during the week…
These days the science behind sports drinks is advancing at a fair rate, with more of a focus on the different drinks that should be consumed before, during and after exercise. If you’re serious about your fitness, being serious about what you drink could well help.
These drinks, filled with sugar, will give you a quick sugar high just after you drink them – you’ll be buzzing. Unfortunately, this will soon be replaced by a sugar low, which will won’t be particularly helpful for you. It’s best to stay away from these before or during a match.
Pre-Match Drinking Dos & Don’t’s
Drink Water – Water is the most accessible and cheapest drink. It’ll do as good a job as anything else.
Drink a lot – Drink before, during and after your football match in order to remain fully hydrated.
Drink regular small amounts – Downing a pint at a time is likely to leave you feeling bloated, hardly what you want. Take many small sips.
Drink ‘warm’ drinks – It’s actually more effective to drink water at body temperature than at fridge temperature, so don’t worry about it needing to be cool.
Drink Sugary Drinks – It will ultimately leave you less pumped up than you were before you had the drink…
Forget To Hydrate – You’ll end up underperforming, plus you’ll probably get a headache after the game – not good.
One Final Thought
If you are ever thirsty, it’s a sign you’re already partly dehydrated – so don’t wait to become thirsty, drink before you get that feeling…
See you next week for some more Pre-Match Preparation advice!
(Image courtesy of Martyn Hodder)