No matter what level you play at, from grassroots rugby to a British Lions Tour, the excitement, anticipation and preparation leading into game time remains key to a successful 80 minutes on the field.
In the 24 hours leading up to a game, focus should be on carbohydrates and hydration whilst also the maintenance of your sodium levels to keep electrolytes at optimum levels for performance.
To kick start this process, you want to eat the perfect meal. An example; large bowl of pasta mixed with vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and green beans, a pint of water and an electrolyte filled drink.
For more information on the area of nutrition check out the E4R nutrition section.
The excitement and anticipation leading into any game is a great feeling and those butterflies are part of the reason why we love the game of rugby.
Problems can arise if we do not learn how to get the correct mental balance between being psyched up to compete and remaining calm and level headed. An imbalance can become a detriment to performance.
Sufficient sleep patterns, especially in the 72 hours before game day, are key to be mentally fit to compete. In the hours leading into the game, go through your attacking moves, defensive patterns and how the ‘perfect’ individual and team performance should look.
The warm up
Physical preparation is key to performance, especially 24 hours prior to kick off. It’s essential to avoid fatiguing the body, so things like, 5-10-minute interval on an aero bike, light stretching and run-thrus are all good ways to keep the body loose.
If time allows try 2 blocks of 10-minutes light work on an aero bike and light stretching, spaced out around 4 hours apart. The morning of the game repeat this but whilst on the bike mentally rehearse game plans etc.
Pre game warm ups need to be dynamic and specific, and at any level need to be physically and mentally engaging. A good pre game warm up should be at least 30-40 minutes in duration. Try the following warm up:
- 6-8 minutes: dynamic warm up from try line to 22 metre line
jog out and back| jog out and walking lunge back |jog out lateral step back |jog out power squat back
- 10-12 minutes: ball handling skills
finger taps | round back |round legs | side to side grips
- 8-10 minutes – passing drills
- 10-12 minutes – tackle pads and contact work
(During this time make a short period for kickers to warm up and practice)
With the perfect build up to the game all that is left now is to line up in the tunnel, take in the smell of the muddy pitch, the atmosphere of the crowd and the expectations of the game – time to hear the Lions roar…