A good pre-game routine is vital to playing a good soccer game. Unfortunately, many players do not know what they need to do, or they neglect to develop a good routine.
Both mental and physical pre-game rituals are necessary to help you play your best. Here are some of the tips and tactics our technical coaches use to keep soccer boarding school students in top mental and physical shape:
Soccer boarding school tip: Warming up
When you get up in the morning before a game, be aware of how you feel. See if you have any soreness in your body. Your team warm-up routine should cover all key areas, but you may need to do some additional stretching to hit any problem points you may have.
For pre-game drills, start out nice and easy with some light running and stretching to warm up your body. Once you're ready, move on to dynamic stretching – moves relating to specific game motions, such as jumping and lifting the knees. Follow it up with more static stretching.
For a group warm-up, do some passing drills with your teams in groups of two or three. Just keep it easy to loosen your body up and connect with the ball.
For the thirty minutes before the game, all you're doing is warm up your body and making sure that you're physically and mentally ready to go into a full-blown match. Work hard during your drills, but do not exhaust yourself. Save your energy for the game.
Soccer boarding school tip: Mental preparation
Preparing mentally for a soccer match is just as important as preparing physically. More than many other sports, soccer is a mental contest. The game's lightning-fast pace requires players to make split-second decisions and act creatively.
There are 22 players on the field, so that means during a 90 minute match, the average player touches the ball for less than three minutes. What you're doing during the other 87 minutes of the game is essential to your team's success on the pitch.
This ability to focus intensely on the game is what separates the good players from the great players. You could play well for 89 minutes, but if you have an opportunity to score that last minute and you're not prepared, it could mean the difference between winning and losing the game.
When you're physically exhausted, it's even more important to be mentally strong in order to maintain your level of play.
"Mental imagery" is one mental tactic that we encourage in our soccer boarding school students. The basic concept of mental imagery is to create or recreate soccer techniques or experiences while engaged in relaxed deep breathing or meditation. It seeks to familiarize and mentally perfect actual soccer skills in the "mind's eye" of players. Studies have shown that this mental technique, if practiced regularly, can have a powerful impact on a soccer player's overall performance.
Visualize yourself correctly completing a soccer move or skill. Just pull it up in your mind and go through it a few times whenever you have a moment, like when you're lying in bed before falling asleep. This "mental rehearsing" tactic can actually help you come game time.
Also, increase your understanding of the "beautiful game." Watch televised professional matches. Read soccer magazines. Keep up with soccer blogs and websites. Become a student of the game. The more familiar you are with formations, patterns and off the ball movement, the better you will understand the game and the better your performance will absolutely be.
These tips and tactics give our soccer boarding school students an edge before they ever hit the pitch. Take some time to develop a good pre-game routine for yourself, so you can give a pro performance in your next match!