5 Things You Can Do To Improve Game Day Performance!

Whether you’re a travel hockey player, an adult league rink-rat or a professional hockey player it does not matter; as athletes we share the common goal of always trying to be our best. This blog post discusses the five essential aspects you can implement in your game-day routine.  

I am not here to ruin your beloved rituals of taping your stick a certain way. The five elements I discuss below are just a few things you can add in to maximize your performance potential.  

  • DYNAMIC VS STATIC WARM-UP

  • Hockey is a dynamic sport of sprints, contact and playmaking. If you do not warm up you are set up to fail. If your warm-up is the old-school method of just light jogging and static stretches then you are not much better.

    The old-school is ineffective and yet I still see it being used. Stretching your cold muscles will only weaken it like stretching a rubber band out.

    A proper warm-up should always include breaking a sweat, increasing body temperature and loosening up the joints to meet the demands of hockey. Makes sense, right? Include about:

    • 8 minutes of aerobic exercise (Jog, Bike, Jump-rope…etc)
    • 8  minutes of mobility/stability maintenance  
    • 5 minutes of injury preventative work
    • 10-15 minutes of stick work (pass, shoot, dangle)

    The most effective warm-up I was ever shown took nearly 20 years into my hockey training. My off-ice trainer would make us jog back and forth between 10 yard markers. He would mix it up with side-steps, lunges, jumps and whatever else to get us prepared. Took about 10-15 minutes and most of my warm-up was complete.

    Leave the static stretches to a minimal before the game and focus it more-so afterwards.

  • MOBILITY

  • "Every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves. You know what to eat, how to train, and what to do if you have a cut; you should also know how to fix your tight hips, painful knees, and stiff shoulders, and how to make yourself faster and more powerful. It's too much to mobilize everything, all the time, everyday. Start somewhere"- Kelly Starrett

    Mobility is the ability for our body to handle certain positions. I wish I worked on this more in my youth as it has greatly improved my athleticism. The best thing I can do for you is to introduce you to this Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/sanfranciscocrossfit

    Kelly Starret is a physical therapist/athletic trainer and he has set out to release hundreds of free content to help you feel and move better. Browse his Mobility WOD Channel and work on a few things.

    I know when I was growing up with knee pain the recommended stretching and letting it rest never worked for me. Kelly’s advice was to massage my lower quads and hamstrings with a lacrosse ball and I loved him ever since.

    Check out some stuff to do prior to your game.

    Deep Squat Mobility

    PRE-GAME NUTRITION

    I eat for performance and all my meals are delicious. What works for me may not work for you. Do not be afraid to try new things and learn to understand what your body needs.

    My game-day diet does not differ much from any other day:

    • A balanced diet of varied proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats
    • I avoid processed foods, junk food and most fast foods.
    • Eat Nutrient Dense Foods – 4 / 5 fresh veggies + 1 / 2 fresh fruits a day.
    • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water. Avoid all soda. Minimize caffeine.
    • Reduce salt and sugar. Do NOT avoid either, reduce it.
    • Do not under-eat. Calories = Energy for mind and body.

    Your meal plan will vary depending on your schedule. Most of my games are late so I eat a big healthy breakfast and lunch but a light and early dinner. My ideal meals are about 4 hours before having a grilled salmon with sweet potatoes and spinach and drench it with olive oil. 1 hour before the game I might have a banana/apple and a handful of unsalted mixed nuts.

    I also prepare myself a home-made sports drink. Basically I boil tea, mix with raw honey and a pinch of sea salt.

    Try new things outside of game day to avoid surprises. Understanding your body is very important for an athlete yet it takes time and patience.

    Sweet Potato/Kale- YUM!

    NAP

    Not much to say here expects that some shut-eye is good for you. For those with early games, just make sure to get the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep. However, if your game is a little later in the day or at night then a 10-30 minute nap is a great re-charge. Try not to go past a 30-minute sleep to avoid sluggishness and always set an alarm. If you wake up in that cranky mood then take a cold shower, do some Burpees and get ready for the game.


    MEDITATION

    Basically any successful person I know of spends at least a few minutes a day to meditate. Meditation allows one to de-stress and focus on the plan ahead. The same applies for a hockey game, meditating and visualizing the game will prepare your body and mind to be ready for all sorts of situations that might occur. Sit down for at least 5-minutes, outside of the nap, and try to visualize yourself and what your role is on the ice that night. Visualize all sorts of situations, be detailed oriented and figure out any possible problems then and there. You will be ready for anything!



    Check out my other article on quick recoveries!

    I hope all of you try some of these things out and as each one of them has helped me take my game to the next level one way or another. Be patient with anything new you try, it takes time and patience to truly see progress.

    Good luck to all of you!

    - Mark Lisica



    Warm-up One-timers before Outdoor Game

    Resources & Other Sources You Should Check Out

     

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