June 7, 2019
By Grant Lindsley
Gameday Prep – Routines to Hone Performance on the Day That Matters Most
Athletes often have specific routines to prepare for gameday. NBA sharp-shooter J.J. Redick is known for his painstaking process. Before every game, he takes the same two-hour afternoon nap, eats the same cardboard-tasting protein bar, and performs the same stretching routine down to the minute.
Preparation extends well outside of gameday, of course. For ultimate players, there are months of physical training at the track, in the weight room, and at practice. Every Sunday in the off-season, Redick makes exactly 342 shots from specific locations on the court.
There's also film study, an area to which ultimate players have increasing access. And there’s an entire world of in-game adjustments – physical and mental, individual and team – that essentially serve as micro-preparations for the final push in the second half or fourth quarter.
But on the day of a game, it’s easy to feel an uncertain void. You don’t want to spend all day psyching yourself up, because you’ll be tired by the time the game rolls around.
You wake up Saturday morning and have a game at 6:00pm – how do you spend that time to be at your best? What and when and how much do you eat? Do you exercise at all, or do you conserve energy and sit in a dark room binge-watching Catch-22 on Hulu? In short, how do you prepare without exhausting yourself?
Here’s my standard Saturday ritual:
Wake up and make a large smoothie. Ingredients: flax milk, banana, frozen fruit, peanut butter, protein powder, and either kale or spinach. Meditate for 5-25 minutes.
Yoga class. This helps open my hips and loosen my legs and shoulders for the game later in the day. If the teacher tries to work us harder than I want, then I'll spend a fair amount of time in child's pose, which doubles as practice reigning in my ego, who wants me to compete with the other people in the class and lunge lower, hold poses for longer, do every core exercise, etc.
Light lunch at home with my wife. Usually a combination of beans, vegetables, and a grain (e.g., garbanzo bean, roasted sweet potato and broccoli, and rice with sriracha). I’ll drink yerba mate or coffee.
Travel. Take the train north to the Fosina field (assuming a home game). Listen to audiobooks instead of music to avoid getting to fired up too early. Recent reads I recommend: Calypso by David Sedaris and Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes.
Personal warmup at the field. This might include a light nap, and foam rolling on my hips and hamstrings and IT bands. Next: structured throwing with a teammate. I’ll throw the same inside-out flick ten or more times, focusing each time on the ingredients that lead to consistent accuracy: correct footwork and a balanced upper body. I’ll repeat the process for outside-in flicks, then for backhands, then for hammers, then for hucks. It never hurts to throw some pump fakes, too.
Team warmup. Continue hydrating with something that has electrolytes, like Gatorade. Caffeinate a bit more with whatever is available.
Game time. I’ll eat a lot during the game – more than I used to: often an entire protein bar, a PB&J sandwich, and a couple clementines, plus liquids.
After the game, pasta dinner at Spectators. Chow down, hydrate, head home, and get to bed by midnight.