It doesn't matter what sort of level you or your child plays in, preparing for a soccer game is serious business. You need to have all the equipment and gear ready for the game. You also need to be warmed up physically enough to compete at your best potential.
Whatever your pre-game ritual might look like, there are a few things that you definitely should not ignore before the game. After a few games, the preparation might become sort of a ritual.
In order to perform your best, you need to speed the time preparing for your game. We’ve put together our list of recommendations, including checking through your gear, hydration and nutrition, and some bonus tips.
Although you might have done it a thousand times before, there will come a time where you forget something. It’s only natural. However, with an equipment-check before you leave, you'll lessen this risk.
Whether you are a player who has gone through it a thousand times or a soccer mom, the pre-game check is extremely important. Without specific gear not only might you feel unprepared, you might not even get to play.
Imagine you get to the game and you don’t have your cleats to be able to compete! If you need to, have a pre-game checklist in your bag or by the door for you to check off before you leave.
An extremely important part of pre-game preparation is being fueled to compete. Having enough energy and the proper type of energy, is just as important as the game itself.
What you are is what you eat. How you perform is greatly affected by what you put in your body beforehand.
It can be a tough balance to make sure you don’t over-eat or under-eat before a game, and they same can be said for hydration. Everyone’s body is different, and so you’ll have to find what is best for you specifically.
Warming up your body prepares you for the game, and helps to ensure you don’t get injured. A lot of people, especially when they are young, don’t “feel” the benefits of warming up, and start to become lax in their warms ups (or even stop).
Don’t make this mistake - establish a good warm up routine, and ensure you stick to it before each and every game. Your muscles are going to be going through an intense workout, with lots of twists, turns, ball controlling, and quick movements, and you want to be sure they are ready to go without hurting themselves.
Make sure you are stretching out all of the muscle groups in your legs, including your calfs, quads, and hamstrings. Hold the stretch for at least 8-10 seconds. Repeat the stretches several times, pushing a little harder and further the second time through.
While you are gently running, raise your knees as high as you can towards your upper body. You don’t need to run fast for this stretch - the goal is to really stretch out your upper leg muscles.
Don’t do this exercise until you have already performed general stretching on your leg muscles.
Butt kickers are actually very similar to high knees, but in reverse. For this exercise, while lightly running, you are going to kick your heels upwards toward your butt. If you can, follow through and have you heels kick your buttox.
High knees and butt kickers are a common 1-2 exercise to warm up for soccer, football, and basketball. For high intensity sports, this will do a great job of loosening up your upper legs for the game.
A high knee lift is best done while slowly walking forwards, and stretches out your quad and hip flexors. Kick your knee up as high as you can while walking, and then follow through by pulling your leg and toe up.
Add a kick out and away from your body to further stretch your hip flexor. Rotate back and forth between your left foot and right foot as you walk.
The ladder scissors is an exercise that will loosen up and stretch your hip muscles, which are key in a soccer game. You don’t actually need a ladder to perform this - you can just mimic that activity as if there was a ladder to work around.
As if you had a ladder on the ground, work your feet in and out of the ladder rungs, alternating feet as you go. This will create an oscillating pattern for your legs and hips that really helps to loosen them up.
Along with the hamstrings, soccer players are prone to pulling their groin muscle, so this is a good stretch to help prevent that.
Spread your legs far apart and, while your feet are firmly planted, move your body back and forth from side to side, positioning your body over top of each foot before going back to the other.
This side to side action will stretch your groin out. The more intensely you perform the exercise, the deeper the stretch you will get.
A game is serious business. Although you might be playing in a rec league, not preparing properly for the game can lessen the enjoyment of actually playing in it. If you are not rested well or warmed-up properly, you can possibly get injured.
Here are a few extra tips to make sure you cross off your pre-game list before you head out onto the field. Especially if you are dealing with some unforeseen circumstances like weather or traffic, it’s always good to try and be as prepared as possible.
Soccer is not only a physical sport. It is also mental. These pre-game preparations may also help you “get in the zone” mentally. When it comes to coming physically prepared, aside from your skills, you should wear appropriate soccer cleats for the shape and size of your foot.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Even though you don’t have to go through everything on this list, try and develop a ritual that works for you. Each player is different, so find something that works for you and stick with it.