As a rugby player, we’ve all turned up to a match or a training session not feeling it. For whatever reason, we don’t feel like hurdling our bodies at heavy men whilst running around in shorts getting our legs muddy. My last training session was one of those times and my performance was pitiful. Whilst it was only training, the same could happen in that all-important game.
Even when you are feeling at your worst, there are ways to get pumped up. Each player has their own individual routine that gets them ready for the upcoming match. I will be looking at the common ways one prepares themselves mentally.
Every day when you wake up, your first concern is breakfast. Your first meal has got to be full of protein. Without getting too wound up in the nutrition world, animal protein is the best. Think meat, eggs and fish. For breakfast, I choose the good old fried egg and bacon with a glass of milk. Not only is it tasty, but it will slowly release energy until the game.
If you’re vegetarian, then there is no need to panic. You can eat plant protein, but as one ingredient doesn’t contain all those vital amino acids, you have to mix and match. The combinations are meals you’ve most likely to have had before – milk on cereal, beans on toast etc.
Next is pre-match meal. At least 30 minutes before the match starts, it’s best to take some form of carbohydrates. Whether it’s in the form of 2 large bananas, pasta or even a chocolate bar, the quick-release energy will help you focus on the game ahead. There is no use trying to visualise your team’s moves if you’re falling asleep in the changing room.
Everyone knows that water helps concentration. So drink it. Not too much that you’re going the toilet every five minutes, but enough that your urine is clear. Increasing your concentration will help you better on the field in making those vital decisions.
The main purpose of music is to express emotion. In hope, the listener will feel that emotion too. If you want to get angry and aggressive before a game, listen to some angry, aggressive music. I listen to a mix of heavy metal, rap, and instrumentals. Anything that makes me want to run forwards and knock someone clean to the floor. That feeling is exactly what we are looking for before a game. The result being that when I step foot on that pitch, I am itching to go. Check out my Spotify playlist here:
In the changing room, blast some tunes with the team. Not only does this contribute to the aggressive feeling you want, it unites everyone. If you’re loud enough, hopefully your amazing harmony will subconsciously scare the other team. Face it: you would rather face one person than a whole pack.
You’ve listened to your music, you’ve had your warm up and you’ve seen the other team. Back in the changing room, take a few silent minutes. Take deep breaths and close your eyes. Visualise beating the opposition’s counterpart. Visualise your team’s moves. Visualise scoring the try. During this silence, I tell myself that I’m going to be the most vicious tighthead out there. The opposition are going to be intimidated and scared by me. They will fall backwards at the sight of me running towards them. This gets my blood pumping, my brain ready for the challenge ahead. The only thing left is to repeat the visions on the pitch.
The team hug is the last drive before the game. Grab a shirt and huddle together. A good captain will motivate you, remind you of your role and make sure you’re ready. In the silence between the talk finishing and the circle disbanding, take a hard look at the people around you. Your teammates rely on you as much as you do on them. Do what is needed to help them. Not only will this bring unity, but it will also bring success.
By the time your routine is complete, you will be on the field itching to go. With this newfound energy, be careful not to waste it on a stupid punch. Instead, use it in the next tackle. More importantly, have fun.
Are the suggestions above similar to your routine? Is there anything that isn’t listed that you do? Share your routine in the comments below.