For Athletes: How To Prepare For Your Big Day

You have worked so hard to get to where you are now. You’ve done all the training needed, eaten all the right foods you’ve been advised to eat. But yet somehow, your confidence has been derailed one way or the other and you’re now nervous about the whole thing. Without getting that confidence back, the probability of you having a very bad performance is high. Some of the factors that affect your confidence could be both psychological and physical.
Here are some tips for athletes to get you completely ready for your big day ahead.

Make sure your carbohydrate intake is on check every day to keep glycogen stores full. Glycogen is converted to glucose which in turns gives us energy, so now you see why you need a lot of glycogen stored before and on the D day before your event. Allow you’re your foods to always digest. Rest for about 3-4 hours minimum after having a meal. Indigestion is not what you want to affect during your event. Avoid eating less than 2 hours before the event and even if you must, make sure it’s a low fat, high carbohydrate snack. Limit high fat proteins such as cheese and peanut butter – they take a long time to empty from the stomach and will slow you down. A small amount of low fat protein can settle the stomach and stay around long enough to prevent hunger – try cottage cheese, 1-2 eggs, milk and combine it with some sort of carbohydrate for best results. Go easy on high sugar or high glycemic index foods to avoid a “sugar crash” that can occur when your blood sugar rapidly rises and then falls again.
Drink extra water the day before, have 2-3 glasses before bed and 1-3 glasses 5-10 minutes before the event and remember to re-hydrate after the event! You should replace every pound of weight lost with at least 2 cups of water, or 3 cups if you have another event on the same day. You can even add a pinch of salt to your water for better absorption of the water by your cells, thereby preventing the urge of wanting to use the rest room.

As an athlete, one thing you should totally avoid is allowing yourself focus on the past (whether it’s past failures or past victories) and on the future, let your focus be on the present. When you allow the focus of concentration jump ahead to the future, or drift back to, all you’re doing to yourself is to increase your nervousness. If you want to stay cool and calm in the clutch, then you have to train yourself to keep your focus in the NOW — especially during your games, matches or races!

It’s very easy to understand that you need to focus in the now, but much harder to consistently do it! The way that you stay in the now is by immediately becoming aware whenever your focus drifts back to the past or ahead to the future, then quickly return your concentration to the now. Losing your focus won’t make you nervous. What will make you nervous is losing your focus and not bringing it back right away. It’s the break in concentration that you don’t immediately catch that will drive your stress level through the roof and sabotage your play.

Thinking gets most athletes into trouble and makes them nervous. While it might be pretty hard to stop yourself from thinking, you can purposely distract yourself from it. So, in the days and minutes leading up to a big performance or tournament, keep busy. Do not allow yourself a lot of free time to think. Focus on your homework, read a book, play tv games, watch a movie, listen to music, get involved in non-sports related conversations with friends and do things to keep yourself busy and distracted.

Just as you’ve probably been told by your coach that sleeping should be fixed as part of your training if you want to keep fit and stay healthy, having enough sleep regularly days before you big day helps improve your mood and gets you ready for the day. Also try to bank extra sleep. A study conducted at Stanford University demonstrated that increasing sleep to 10 hours per night for a period of time improved athletic performance for tennis and basketball players.

Surely, a combination of these tips would get you completely ready for the big day. Make sure you stick to your diet strictly towards the D day, sleep well and get your thoughts in check.

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