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How to Prepare for Football Games

Every minute counts in a football game, so you need to prepare yourself to go full speed from the opening kickoff. Your team’s organized pregame drills will cover some of your warm-up needs, but you’re primarily responsible for items such as nutrition and mental preparation. A thorough pregame routine will ensure that your equipment, your body and your mind are all ready for action when your number is called.

  1. Eat low-fat, high-carbohydrate meals on game day. Include some protein in each meal, such as eggs, lean meat or beans. Have a light meal about three hours before the game. You can also eat an energy snack, such as a protein bar, shortly before kickoff.

  2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, up to about one hour before kickoff. Afterward, drink modest amounts of water or energy drinks.

  3. Arrive about two hours before the game, if you travel directly to the field. If you’re traveling with your team, leave home early to make sure you arrive at the transportation hub on time. If you’re delayed in traffic, you may literally miss the bus.

  4. Examine your equipment when you arrive in the locker room so you have time to replace or repair anything that’s damaged.

  5. Visit the team trainer to receive any necessary treatment or preparation. For example, you may need a sore muscle massaged or your ankles taped.

  6. Bring different shoes to the game that are appropriate for various field conditions. Longer cleats, for example, offer better traction if the field is wet. Take a light jog on the field before your team’s organized warm-up, to loosen your muscles and to ensure that you’re wearing the best cleats for the field conditions.

  7. Perform dynamic stretches after you’ve warmed up for at least five minutes. Stretch your shoulders, thigh and back by walking with high knees. Perform walking straight leg kicks for your thighs, calves and back. Do carioca runs for you hips and ankles. Stretch your arms, chest, back and shoulders with horizontal arm swings.

  8. Do any personal rituals that help you relax and focus your mental energy on the game. This may include listening to music, praying or eating the same snack at the same time on each game day.

  9. Think about the game you’re about to play for at least a few minutes and visualize yourself succeeding. Run through specific plays in your mind and imagine yourself carrying out your assignment, such as making a pancake block if you’re an offensive lineman or tackling a runner one-on-one if you’re a linebacker.

  10. Speak with a coach if you have any last-minute questions about the game plan.

  11. Participate in your team’s organized warm-up activities. Continue to visualize positive outcomes as you perform the exercises and drills.

    Tip

    Performing the same routine before every game may help you feel more comfortable.

    Warning

    If you've been injured, give your team's medical personnel an accurate report on your status before the game. If you try to play through an injury you may risk doing long-lasting damage.

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About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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