Brandon Miele, Shamrock Rovers football player
Match day is the most important day of my week and it is the culmination of all the nutritional and fitness work that has been committed to during the week leading up to the game. If you have prepared correctly off the field in terms of nutrition, sleep, hydration etc. your on field performance is made a lot easier. It is simply about going out onto the pitch and delivering a performance for my team Shamrock Rovers that will allow us to improve our position in the league. We all have a part to play and if I reach my peak performance there isn’t much more I can do and I will leave the field very satisfied.
In terms of reaching this level of performance there are number of key areas I focus on, the first of these might be surprising, but it is my sleep. It’s increasingly becoming such a vital component of a professional player to get enough sleep and to develop a technique to ensure a good night’s sleep. It can be difficult when you’re balancing a lot of things in your life, alongside being a professional football player. As a rule of thumb I think everyone should get approx. 8 hours sleep. I would focus on my sleep routine each night which would include turning off my phone an hour before bed, making sure the lighting is low and I also like to listen to some relaxing music. This is all very important to get the mind and body ready to sleep. Sleep is about physically recovery but also about mind-set recovery. A good sleep allows me to think clearly about my role in the upcoming game and what areas I need to focus on.
Another challenge I face is ensuring that I’m getting the correct amounts of macronutrients from food that my body requires. Two days before a game I’ll start carb-loading to have maximum energy levels. This would involve eating foods such as wholemeal bread, pasta and rice. I also make sure I have a good wholesome breakfast to set me up with energy for the day. Usually some nice eggs and brown bread toast with some avocado. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and under no circumstances should it be skipped!
As we move towards match day and following any training session, I like to take a Herbalife 24 Rebuild Strength shake within 30 minutes, followed by a full meal within one hour. High in both whey and casein the protein shake helps with muscle synthesis and has an optimum level of high quality carbohydrates to assist with protein absorption post-workout.
Another good habit to get into is to sip on water throughout the day for hydration and electrolytes which fuel performance. I like to get at least 2.5 litres of water on board a day, but just like macronutrients this will depend on your own needs and activity levels. Staying hydrated helps you feel fresh and when coupled with some recovery techniques such as foam-rolling and stretching you’ll feel much fresher coming into game day.
I consider meal preparation as the single most important thing I do all week. By putting aside an hour or two on a Sunday evening and again mid-week to cook some meals, I end up with so much more time to spare during the week as I am not cooking. Go out and buy yourself some lunch boxes or Tupperware and cook in bulk and then refrigerate or freeze these meals. I make sure I only buy healthy foods when I shop. If you don’t buy junk, you can’t eat it at home and that’s how simple it is. Instead of buying sugary foods to snack on, buy nuts and other healthy snacks.
It’s little things like this that make a huge difference.
The final part of my peak performance programme is visualisation. I work very hard to develop my performance mind-set. This involves running through the game and my role in it over and over again so I am completely comfortable and relaxed. I think about different serious that might soccer during the game and how I might handle them. We score a goal or we concede a goal, how will I react? How can I assist my team in achieving our aim?
Remember, making some small, incremental changes to your diet and lifestyle each day and these will add up and end up making a massive difference on your performance.