Behind the Scenes: How EFL Clubs Prepare for Matchday

Ever feel like your team isn’t hitting the ground running on matchday? Week after week, you notice slow and sluggish starts. Players seem to need time to adjust, and you find yourself yelling “wake up” within the first 10 minutes.

This rarely happens to those teams that conduct EFL matchday preparation. Usually this is left behind the scenes of football clubs, but preparation is important, the whole game day depends on it: from the mood of the players to the results. Here are the main stages of preparation for the EFL clubs matchday routine.

1 Loading Carbohydrates

Preparing for matchday like a pro means starting a fueling strategy well in advance. To ensure your players have the necessary energy for a full 90 minutes, it’s crucial to begin increasing carbohydrate intake 36 to 48 hours before kick-off. For example, if the match is on a Saturday morning, trainers focus on carb-loading starting from Thursday lunchtime.

Although this might seem extensive, the logic behind this ‘carb-loading’ approach is to fill your muscles with glycogen. This way, the team can ease up on eating as the game approaches. Many players experience pre-match nerves, so having smaller meals before the game can help them feel more relaxed.

Incorporate more starchy carbohydrate foods into your players’ diets, such as potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta. Don’t forget to balance these with adequate vegetables, protein, and fats for an overall nutritious meal plan.

2 Avoiding Exhausting Activity

Regarding exercise, the day before the match should ideally be the rest of the day. If any activity is necessary, players opt for light dynamic stretching or low-intensity cardio, like swimming. Players avoid any strenuous activity that could deplete energy or increase the risk of injury.

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3 Morning Activity

For afternoon kick-offs, it’s beneficial to engage in some light activity in the morning. This helps in circulating nutrients throughout the body and shifting focus from the anticipation of the game. Suitable activities include:

  • Walking: A simple stroll can help loosen up muscles and calm nerves.
  • Yoga: Gentle stretches and poses can enhance flexibility and mental clarity.
  • Relaxed Cycling: A low-intensity bike ride can get the blood flowing without overly taxing the muscles.

4 Pre-Match Meal

The main pre-match meal should be consumed roughly 3-4 hours before kick-off. This timing allows for proper digestion and ensures that the nutrients can be converted into energy during the match. The meal should be chosen based on comfort, personal preference, and confidence. Many players opt for a consistent pre-match meal routine. Key components of this meal include:

  • Carbohydrates for sustained energy.
  • Protein for muscle support and repair.
  • Hydration with water or juice, avoiding sports drinks at this stage.

5 Sports Drinks Management

While sports drinks are beneficial, they should be reserved for specific times. Avoid consuming them in the hours leading up to the match as doing so may lead to an early depletion of carbohydrates, resulting in fatigue later in the game. Instead, use sports drinks immediately before kick-off, at half-time, and during any breaks to maintain peak performance.

6 Pre-Match Team Talk

A few minutes before kick-off, the coach gathers his team together. He delivers the message short and focused, reminding them of the team’s overall objective. The coach only has to reinforce what the team has been working on in training sessions. He ensures that each player knows their individual roles and responsibilities.

Final Words

Getting ready for match day is a comprehensive process that spans several days and involves numerous facets to ensure players are at their peak. For EFL clubs, preparation should ideally begin 3-4 days before the game, focusing on nutrition, hydration, and physical readiness.

 

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