The final hours to the matchday can play a major role in your performance during the match. They can make or break you.
There are several important things that a player should keep in mind after the final training session. Here are the key things on should observe ahead of the match:
Rugby training is always intense due to massive amount of strength-building needed and endurance drills. Rest is an important aspect of preparation before the game. It’s essential to have a rest and sleep up to eight hours in the night before the match and avoid strenuous activities on the hours before the match
To sleep well, turn off your electronic devices an hour before bed, take warm decaffeinated tea, put on an eye mask, put in earplug and sleep in a cool environment.
Nutrition and Hydration
While eating before the match, ensure you find the right balance of nutrition. Eating too much or a heavy meal before playing rugby can cause all of the usual gastrointestinal complaints, including cramping and gas. Hydration is key when preparing for a rugby match. The amount of energy you put forth during play, combined with a potentially hot day, can sap you of strength and fluids. Start drinking water early on game day and continue until match time.
Packing your rugby Gear
Prepare for the big game the night before by getting your gear together. Pack your bag with your jersey, socks, shoes, ball, a towel and a change of clothes for after the game. Cross check if you have your mouthguard, game socks/shorts, water bottle, tape or pre-wrap, scrum cap, shoulder pads. It’s better to do the packing a night before the match. It helps eliminate stress and leaves you going into the game confident and ready to dominate rather than anxious.
On the Matchday
Take deep breaths to calm yourself especially when yourself getting jittery and nervous. Inhale and exhale deeply, pulling from the diaphragm. This will help calm your pulse down to a healthy rate and let you focus on the game.
Take a short walk if your nerves become overwhelming and as you walk you can listen to some music to manage strong emotions. You can chose music that will calm you or music to psych you up. You can listen via headphones or listen on a speaker with some teammates to immerse yourself in the music.
Meditate to relax your body and mind. If you find yourself overwhelmed and tense on game day, try a short meditation session. To practice meditating, sit in a comfortable, quiet place. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and focus on deep breathing for 10-20 minutes. This can help you rein in your stress and channel it into focus.
Visualize your ideal successful performance. Ahead of the game, imagine successful past games or future performances. Envision yourself swishing all your shots, hitting a home run, scoring, or running in a touchdown. Mentally rehearsing a successful game beforehand can give you confidence in your abilities and improve your performance.
Make the scenario as realistic as possible—imagine details such as sights, sounds, feelings, and smells. Imagine yourself being successful in this scenario over and over again
And your body needs a good priming for injury prevention – a proper warm-up and activation takes time. Make sure to get there in time to get your boots/equipment on, start an individual warm-up and focus on your goals. The few extra minutes before team warm up are great to walk through plays or lineouts, refine your passing technique, do some one-on-one tracking, or whatever else is critical to your game.
Stretching and warming
Warming up your muscles with a stretching routine prevents injuries during the game. The United Kingdom’s Rugby Football Union suggests a 20- to 25-minute warm-up that includes low-intensity movement like jogging to raise your body temperature and loosen muscles, the range of motion exercises to promote flexibility, footwork drills and a five-minute, high-intensity, full-contact drill to wrap up the warm-up session. The range of motion exercises can include head and neck rotations, shoulder shrugs, knee bends, and leg lifts.
Enjoying the game
Rugby is a game and should be treated as such. Above all, it should be an enjoyable time to smile with your friends, score tries, and appreciate your opponents, refs and fans. Doing all of the above things will help you keep a positive mindset and enjoy each moment of the match. They will also make it easier to dig deep and fight until the final whistle. Games are often the most fun when you can bring your A game. Whatever you play for, the 80 minutes on the field should be a time to express yourself. Enjoy it!
Material derived from Livestrong.com & World Rugby shop