This time of year is heavy for soccer tournaments. Here are three simple tips to have a great time and find successful results at your tournament.
Few coaches, and fewer players, put enough emphasis on nutrition. If you put watered down gasoline in a sports car you wouldn’t expect elite results, would you? The same can be said of any athlete. Go check out the diets of The Rock, Michael Phelps or pretty much any elite professional athlete to see the measures that the best will go to in order to have proper nutrition.
Pre game: Night before a game, make sure to get plenty of complex carbs such as whole wheat pasta as well as a decent amount of protein. Pregame some players will want something to eat, but a general rule of thumb is to get something light around 2 hours before a game so you are not weighed down by heavy foods with lots of carbs and proteins.
During a match: Hydration is key, and even more so in a long weekend with lots of games in high temperatures. Replace electrolytes with Gatorade, coconut water or similar sports drinks.
Post game: As soon as players come off the field try to get a banana and some chocolate milk to aid in recovery. Essentially you are aiming to get some nutrients (bananas provide potassium which can help with muscle cramping), protein (from the chocolate milk) and hydration as soon as possible.
Be a tortoise not a rabbit
Be careful not to step on the field in your first game and spend every ounce of energy you have. There are lots of games to play in a weekend and many times your legs will feel like lead at the start of the second half in your championship game. More reason to make sure you get your fitness in weeks before a tournament but whatever you are working with, make sure to pace yourself.
On this note as well, if you can play clean technically and communicate effectively you will likely not have to run as much to catch up when you turn the ball over. Focus on executing clean play to perform at your highest.
The whole point of a tournament is to go out and have a good time with your team. Depending on the level of play of your team that may mean that you need to get a result to have fun or that the team picnic between games is your favorite part. No matter what the case, don’t let the weight of the moment distract you from why you are playing in the first place! Most of us fall in love with soccer because of the freedom it allows us, the bonds that are formed with teammates and the ability to get better. Make sure that you don’t forget about this when the pressure mounts and you end up in a shootout in the championship game!