No matter the sport you play, each game, exercise, or match pushes your body to perform. For optimal performance each time, you have to practice, condition and nourish your body correctly. Here are a few mistakes athletes can make after a game.
- Not cooling-down/stretching
Perhaps you just won the game and you are ecstatic! You’re already making plans with your teammates to celebrate the win. Before packing up your gear and heading home, make sure to do a few cool-down moves and stretch. A cool-down provides a transition from exercise back to a steady state of rest. The goal of a cool-down is to reduce heart and breathing rates, gradually cool body temperature, return muscles to their optimal length-tension relationships, and restore physiologic systems close to baseline. JKST Tennis Director, Arvind suggests really focusing on stretching the lower half of your body. Targeting the quads, calves, and hamstrings will help prevent injury and decrease muscle soreness.
- Simple sugar consumption
Sugars like fructose, sucrose, glucose, and other simple sugars (mono- and disaccharides) are poor sources for fueling your body during exercise. Prior to a game and afterwards, make sure to avoid these types of sugars. If you want to carb-load for endurance, fill up on complex-carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates allow your digestive system to rapidly and efficiently process a greater volume of calories, providing steady energy.
- Not rehydrating
After exercising, it should be your main goal to completely replace fluid and electrolyte loss. Drinking 50% more fluid than you lost in sweat will enhance muscle recovery. Plain water is all you truly need. Fancy sports drinks have a lot of sugar and other additives that won’t help you perform at your best. To stay hydrated during a game, try to sip 7-10oz. of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise. If you’re partaking in an endurance sport, you also need to consider replacing electrolytes, which are minerals found in the blood that help regulate the amount of water in the body. Some excellent drink examples are, coconut water, water-enhancing electrolyte tablets, water with electrolytes, or homemade sports drinks!
- Not eating enough protein
After a prolonged period of exercise, your body utilizes protein for energy. If you fail to include enough protein in your diet, your body will start using your own muscle as an energy source. Muscle cannibalization is a process that devastates performance through muscle deterioration and increased fatigue. Make sure to have a protein shake or lean protein throughout your training and especially after a game.
Avoid these 4 common mistakes and your game-time performance will improve! Make sure to read your body and assess what areas could use some additional help and support.