March 5, 2013
Effective pre-game rituals allow players and families to establish routines that help prepare for big games.
The Night Before
• Fuel up and fortify – Feed your child a good dinner the night before and a healthy breakfast on game day.
How can your child live up to his or her full soccer star potential without a solid base (food = energy)?
• Rest – Proper rest is essential to performance. Both you and your soccer superstar need plenty of shut-eye to
be attentive and ready to play! Yes, that means you— parents!
Lesson: Schedule the big sleepover the night
AFTER the game
• Gas up – Prevent that annoying, last-minute stop before getting underway. Make sure the family minivan is
fueled-up the night before games.
• Pack and plan – Avoid the morning rush; make sure your child’s uniform is clean and that all equipment is
ready before bed. Pack a bag for post-game activities, with fresh clothes and appropriate outerwear, to ensure your child has something warm and fresh to put on after wet or cold games. Double-check that your water bottles are filled and the soccer ball is inflated. (And don’t forget the folding chairs!)
• Confirm the game time and location – Life gets busy and it’s easy to confuse times and fields. Double- check the schedule, directions and game time.
Morning of the Game
• Avoid hurry-worry syndrome – Factor in extra time on game mornings to get
ready and avoid rushing your child out the door. Your athlete needs to focus on the game, not worry about being the last one on the field. Getting ready for a game can make children anxious, so don’t exacerbate the situation with your own stress – your child will most likely mirror your own game-day attitude.
• Be prepared - Prepare for practices and games by adding the game and prac- tice schedule to your calendar, load directions to the field on your Smartphone and if you are unfamiliar with the field location, ask the coach for assistance. (Remember the first day presents enough challenges, finding the field should be easy!)
• Create a fun car-ride ritual – Have some good “pump up” music ready and waiting in the car. Ask your child to pick a theme song that gets them psyched up! Act excited for your child’s game, but don’t emphasize the importance of winning or losing – just that he or she is going to have a blast.
• Hydrate and snack – Save ice cream for post-game fun; give your child light, healthy snacks and water before the game. Remember you are what you eat!
• Warm-up – Inactivity breeds anxiety; engage your child if you’re early to a game. Kick the ball around or prac- tice some of the coach’s drills. Ask them funny questions to keep things loose. Don’t ruminate about where the second referee is. Focus on what you can control: your child’s excitement and readiness.