- Skipping breakfast
Often athletes confuse game day for ‘sleep in day’ and wake up mid-morning and go straight to lunch. This is the day that you need more energy than any other day of the week, so please do not skip breakfast!! If you are in need for a few extra hours sleep, wake up and have a quick breakfast then go back to bed BUT never skip breakfast on game day.
- Not eating enough
This is a common problem with many athletes who play contact sport. They like the feeling of being ‘light’ and understandably do no want a full stomach when it is going to be hit between 20-30 times by 100 kilograms of moving muscle mass. However, it is really important that you figure out a plan that still ensures you are well fuelled for game day. Work with your Sports Dietitian to come up with a list of foods that digest easily and aim for small amounts, frequently and include more liquid forms of energy such as smoothies, yoghurt or watermelon. Perseverence is the key and your performance will benefit.
- Chasing hydration
When you go to the toilet at the fields and realise you are dehydrated so you scull three litres of water to try and hydrate. This will only result in you feeling sluggish and sick from a full belly of water and inevitably result in a stitch. You need to check your hydration the day before to allow plenty of time to adequately hydrate. An easy tip is to include 300 millilitres of water every time you eat on game day, that way you will absorb the water well and it is easy to remember.
- Not knowing your teams schedule
This is so important as it directly impacts your nutrition preparation for your game. You need to know what time your bus leaves, what time you have to be at the fields so you can plan and PACK your pre-game food and drinks. Remember your last meal should be three to four hours before kick off and you should also have another snack within 60 minutes of kick off. Time to stock up on bananas!
- Stupid food choices
If you skip point number four, then the likely scenario is stopping at a servo on the way to the game and grabbing a packet of chips and a chocolate milk. This will never end well. The other HUGE mistake I see athletes make is that they are low in energy and feeling flat before a game (because they have not eaten well or skipped breakfast) so they turn to caffeine in the form of an energy drink pre-game. This will result in a very brief energy high, but will also result in a crash in energy come the second half. There is no quick fix when it comes to fuelling for an 80-90 minute intense game of football.