It’s the day circled in your diary, the day you and your team have been working toward… Game Day!
It’s taken me a while, and a few mistakes along the way, to get my game day routine just right. So I hope to pass along a few helpful tips that I have found which get my mind and body prepared.
2 weeks before:
Whoa woah woah, I hear you say. 2 weeks before?! Well now is the perfect time to get started on getting your derby brain in order.
If you practice twice a week you only have 3-4 practices left to think about your position on game day. Are you a jammer, blocker or pivot? If you’re a jammer you probably want to spend most of the drills in practices jamming, if you’re a pivot you probably want to do this too just in case you do get passed the dreaded star!
Do you have a particular lane you prefer on track? Are you a strong backwards skater so will be most comfortable as the “fat controller”? The more you know about your own skating helps towards confidence, meaning you can be more calm and centred as you line-up.
It’s also around this time that you should ask your Captain or Bench Coach about any tactics you’re not sure on. It’s okay if something hasn’t clicked yet, but best to ask now rather than panic on game day.
In addition to this, you want to start hydrating. Of course, as “athletes” we’re always hydrating aren’t we? But now’s the time to take it seriously. The suggested amount is 2 litres or 8 glasses a day but even if you can hit 1 litre you doing well! The most important thing is to drink little amounts and often, if you keep forgetting and then gulp down two whole glasses you’re just going to have to pee more often!
Oh yeah, and stop drinking alcohol. But if you really must indulge, you can wait another week!
1 week before:
Okay, *now* stop drinking alcohol! Drinking alcohol (as you know) is a diuretic, so you’ll be undoing all of the hard work you’ve been achieving trying to rehydrate. While we’re on the subject of diuretics, coffee and tea are too. So if you can cut down on your intake of these without going on a murderous rampage, that is a plus!
Confirm any details that you’ll need for the day. Travel, arrival times, what colour you’ll be wearing and if you need to buy any tickets for friends and family.
The week before I usually wash all of my protective gear, there’s a lot of hugging on game day and you don’t want to be the stinky one! As games are usually monthly, it’s a good routine to get into!
A lot of us work out as well as skating, keep working out the week before but arrange your workout schedule so that it’s not a step up week. Try not to push yourself any harder in your workouts that you would usually as your muscles won’t have time to recover and you might even be in the midst of DOMS come game day!
The night before:
Getting everything packed the night before saves any rushing around in the morning, this means the least amount of stress on the day.
I divide my packing into three areas: wearing, consuming and emergency.
Get your kit together. The correct colour uniform (don’t forget the socks), make sure your numbers, wrist, elbow and knee pads have partners. Check the laces on your skates, do they need replacing? Do you need more tape on your skates?
Make your lunch, something preferably with a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. There are lots of resources online with suggestions for suitable portable meals.
It’s going to be a long day and a lot of venues don’t provide food so try not to get caught out.
More water! I usually take a 2 litre bottle for while I’m skating and a smaller one for throughout the morning.
Isotonic energy gel or powder. I’ve found that these work best for me as they don’t contain caffeine, taurine or stupid amounts of sugar that wear off quickly. Very early on I learned that energy drinks like red bull or monster made me shake uncontrollably with a horrible comedown. They’re not designed for sport, and as much as the adverts will tell you otherwise, neither is lucozade.
Protein bar, aside from lunch, this is a great source of sustainable energy which carries through skating.
I take a little bag with me on the bench just in case anything should happen, such as various tools for your skates. While we all check our skates regularly *ahem* I’ve seen wheels roll off and toe-stops spin out… It’s the difference between being benched and running around at half time trying to find someone with a skate tool, or promptly solving the problem and returning to the track.
Tape. Everyone needs tape, maybe even more than you do! You’ll also need scissors to cut said tape as hockey tape is a pain in the butt!
Don’t forget bandages/support socks and ibuprofen for little twinges and various other bits that might come in handy.
Now is the time for rest! Take a bath, watch a film, cuddle your other half or pet and then an early night and set your alarm.
You’re all set – good luck!