Preo’s Blog – Match day prep for the pro player.

An insight into match day prep for a pro player from our ambassador Adam Preocanin.

Match day preparation for most professional rugby players starts in the few days before the game, not just the night before.

You could even argue it starts in the previous weeks and months in terms of the technical and tactical preparation. In this instance, I am talking just about the physical preparedness that an individual is responsible for.

Most of the ‘heavy duty’ work is performed at the start of the week: the lower body weights, intense on-field sessions, main unit’s sessions (for forwards that is usually live scrums and/or mauls), as well as any contact and defence needs.

By Thursday the focus of the week has shifted towards being more technical – the playing squad will work on the specific moves and plays for the weekend. The sessions are still intense, but more emphasis is put on the accuracy of attack and players playing in combination with each other.

This is where the physical preparation really kicks in, and most players will taper their calories, tune their diet, and adjust their routine the closer to the game we get.

Friday night is the classic ‘carb loading event’ that I’m sure quite a few players still partake in. Whether this is simply something they do through habit and is a placebo, or there is something more to it is not for me to answer. However, whatever works, works in my eyes.

Once game day arrives, I get up at a reasonable time and have a high protein breakfast. Normally some bacon and eggs on toast. This usually leads into a small lunch consisting of a NutriBullet fruit smoothie and a protein bar. I prefer not to eat that much close to the game as I tend to feel sluggish when I’m running around. This allows me to snack if I need to.

Hydration is also very important on the day, and between breakfast and lunch I’ll try to drink a couple of litres of water, then just ‘top up’ closer to the game. 

When at the club, I’ll try to do a good amount of mobilisation work and foam-rolling, before getting strapped and changed. After this, we must adhere to the team schedule, within which we have an individual warm up before the main squad comes together. 

I find keeping the same routine, especially on game day prepares me both physically and mentally for the match. Obviously, there are factors that can affect this routine, such as evening games or weeks with short turnarounds, but you just have to do your best to adapt!

Post-match, it’s important to refuel quickly, especially for someone like myself, as by 5pm I haven’t eaten nearly as much as I would on a normal day. I always drink a recovery protein shake that has a decent amount of carbohydrates in it. Then, after showering I’ll have the post-match meal and try to eat again around 9pm.

After a game, it’s the one day players can really treat themselves so a few cookies or a pizza is totally allowed. This isn’t the case if you’ve only played five minutes off the bench. A lot of the time, after an intense game, the biggest priority is to just recover the ‘lost’ calories, and big spike can help recovery. Or so I’m told!

Lastly, a good night’s sleep is best because that’s the easiest way for your body to repair itself. This isn’t always adhered to by rugby players, who sometimes have a few beers to celebrate a win or drown a loss. The key here is moderation!