The messages I receive on a weekly basis from footballers feeling sluggish on match-day are literally never ending! This condition is due to various factors, which we will analyze in this article. Usually, such footballers feel a sense of laziness which many times they cannot fight. The only sure thing is that this problem does not start on the day of the match, but right after the whistle of last week’s game was blown. So, let’s see what may be causing this issue for you!
REASON # 1: POOR QUALITY SLEEP
Sleep is one of the most important tools available to the athlete. A deep, uninterrupted and relatively long (8+ hours) sleep has multiple benefits for the recovery and the performance of the footballer (improved cognitive skills, ability to manage emotions etc. ). Having said that, the athlete definitely needs to adopt proper sleeping habits and integrate them into his daily life.
Just a good night’s sleep before the day of the game is not enough. The athlete should strive for decent quality sleeps consistently during the whole week. Only then will we be able to talk about maximizing his/her performance. Click here to optimize your sleep.
REASON # 2: BAD EATING HABITS
Nutrition is another key factor in performance. The athlete should treat his diet as “fuel”. It may sound paradoxical but did you know that racing cars burn a specific type of fuel (racing fuel)? I’m not telling you to become a car. You can understand the analogy here. If you want to be an elite footballer, you have to eat like an elite footballer is supposed to eat.
Throughout the week it is important to get adequate amounts of protein (1.5-2.2g per kg BW), a balance of simple and complex carbohydrates (click here to learn more about carb-loading), preferably use healthy fats in your home-cooking and meals (such as olive oil, avocado, etc.), to consume large amounts of vitamins and minerals through vegetables and fruits and of course, to drink sufficient amounts of water on a daily basis to meet your increased needs.
OPTIMIZE YOUR GAME-DAY NUTRITION IN THESE 3 STEPS!
REASON # 3: OVERTRAINING
Overtraining comes in different shapes and forms depending on the stage you are at. We have the usual training fatigue which occurs mainly after a series of particularly stressful, high intensity training sessions and/or games. If this condition persists for a long time, then the athlete is led to overreaching or even to the overtraining syndrome (usually after 6+ months). In case you want to learn more about overtraining in football, click here to read a very comprehensive article we wrote!
Every overtraining stage mentioned can cause detrimental symptoms. Those symptoms can lead you to feeling sluggish on match-day. Therefore, special emphasis should be given to the proper planning of training activities and recovery.
On the one hand the athlete should exercise based on a well-structured program that serves his needs and ensures his health and on the other hand he should emphasize on adequate and proper recovery of the body on a weekly basis, including rest, active recovery, proper nutrition and decent sleeping quality. Only then will the athlete be able to avoid a drop in his performance due to overtraining.
REASON # 4: MENTAL DISTRACTIONS/STRESS
One factor that is particularly associated with overtraining is the athlete’s psychological fatigue. This can be due to both endogenous and exogenous factors. Pressure, stress, personal problems, decreased self-confidence etc. are all factors indicating bad psychological health. It is also very common for these psychological problems to occur on the day of competition. After all, this is the day that “counts” as we say. It’s “result-day”. The athlete receives pressure from all kinds of sources to deliver results.
In the case of mental distractions, the athlete is called upon to identify the problem as early and as honestly as possible. The next step is to deal with it. In this phase the help of a specialist, e.g. sports psychologist, will be very beneficial.
REASON # 5: BAD PREPARATION – INCONSISTENT ACTIONS
The fifth reason may seem a little broad but it is the most common reason. Usually, this decline in performance can not be summed up in one factor. In most cases, this sluggish feeling on match-day is caused by a number of factors and an inconsistency of actions throughout the week or even the day of the game.
I like to say that if an athlete pursues (and should pursue) peak performances consistently, he shall also strive to be consistent with the actions he takes on a daily basis. Consistency in the preparation process is the key to consistency in performance.
I urge you to experiment (in a good way) with yourself, in order to gain self-awareness and to approach every match-day following some basic protocols in your daily life, the effectiveness of which you will figure out by trial and error.
Peak performance requires proper preparation. Proper preparation requires consistent actions. Peak performance then requires consistent actions. This makes sense now!
“If you fail to prepare, you’ve prepared to fail.”