How to Prepare Your Mind & Body for a Major Sporting Event [Infographic]

5 min read

Last Modified 12 April 2021 First Added 21 April 2015

By Chris Thomson

‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ as the old saying goes, and that couldn’t be more true than in the case of a major sporting event. It’s not only your body, but also your mind that needs to prepare for sport.

Whether you’re doing your first 5km run or about to lead your team out for a big cup final, if you don’t prepare in the right way then you’re already giving your opponent a hefty advantage. Take a look at our infographic on how to prepare yourself for the 2 weeks leading up to a major sporting event, with advice on training, nutrition and, of course, sleep.

Scroll down for the full transcript, sources, and options to embed this infographic.

How To Prepare Yourself For a Major Sporting Event, an infographic from The Sleep Matters Club

Step 1: Mental preparation for a sports event

Physical preparation is crucial, but mindfulness is just as important for sporting success.

  • Visualise success – If you can imagine yourself achieving something then you’ll feel able to make it really happen.
  • Stay positive – Mistakes happen in the heat of the moment – don’t dwell on them and focus on positive action.
  • Be realistic – Don’t expect the impossible – set realistic goals and work to achieve them and make progress.

Step 2: Physical preparation for a sports event

Preparing your body for any physical activity is important to help reduce the risk of injury and recovery time. Of course, you also want to ensure your body is up the challenge! It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing for a 400m running race, triathlon or joining a football team, here are three important things you need to concentrate on to elevate performance…

  • Training preparation
  • Nutrition preparation
  • Sleep preparation

Training:

  • 2 weeks before the game or competition, taper your training by cutting back on the distance covered and intensity of each session – ensuring you’re fully rested for the event.
  • 1 week before the event, slightly cut back on your training again. Make sure your body is completely rested and free of any aches and pains. Don’t over train! It can do more damage than it is worth.
  • The day before, wind down early and relax – avoid using backlit devices like TV‘s, computers and smart phones during the evening. Try to get an early night’s sleep, you will need your energy for the sports event.

 Nutrition:

  • Try to drink 1.5 L of water every day until the event to remain hydrated and improve performance.
  • One week to go before the big day, slightly cut back on the size of your meals to avoid gaining weight due to reduced training.
  • Always stick to a healthy, balanced and familiar diet – don’t experiment with new meals, diets or eat junk food.
  • One day to go, avoid heavy meals late at night or consuming caffeine after noon. This could prevent you getting a good night’s sleep.
  • On the day of the sport event, eat a carb rich breakfast – e.g. wholegrain toast or breakfast cereal with milk and banana – to sustain you through the event, avoiding high fat proteins and high sugar foods. Take healthy snacks such as bananas, wholegrain wrap sandwiches and recovery shakes to restore your body’s glycogen levels once you’re done.
  • If you’re unsure on the types of food you should be eating, you can always contact a nutritionist or dietitian for expert advice and healthy diet plans.

Sleep:

Try to bank some extra sleep – increasing sleep to 10 hours per night before events can improve athletic performance and minimize the impact of poor sleep the night before. On the day of a sports event take 20 minute nap about two hours before your event which should boost energy levels and performance

According to Dr Charles Czeisler, a Harvard sleep specialist, it’s the sleep after training that is most important. A good night’s sleep allows time for your body to rest and recover from any injuries encountered in training. A 2009 study by MIT showed that mice who had navigated a maze replayed new experiences in their brains as they slept – forming long term memories of what they’d learned. Proving the positive implications of sleep.

To ensure you optimise the benefits of sleep when planning to take part in a sports event, set a sleeping routine and make regular sleep a priority. Keep a sleep diary and manage your sleeping habits alongside your training and nutrition. Remember, a  healthy body equals a healthy mind.

For more useful help and advice, speak to your fellow competitors, learn about how they train and what advice they can offer on preparing for your next major event. Or better still, buddy up to train together and offer support and motivation to one another.

Preparing for a major sporting event is the same as any other big occasion – you get out what you put in. So be smart and ensure that every second of preparation counts.

Do you have any tips on how to prepare for a major sporting event? If so, let us know in the comments below.

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