Dr. Hayden Cohen (Osteopath)
Preparation for finals
Well done, you’ve made it this far!
After a massive pre-season effort, and probably a few seasons of development to build your team, you’re ready to tackle the finals season. It's time to hold the much coveted premiership cup.
With all that hard work under your belt, you want to make sure you get yourself and your team reaching your potential. It's important to minimise any injuries, risks or setbacks that might be in your way.
I've played football for 25 years. It was 20 years between my premiership opportunities. A premiership loss in Juniors, and then finally the chance to make it into a grand final in seniors. I wanted it.
The memory of a loss can make you intensely hungry for the win. If you can harness that hunger and intensity, and use it in crucial moments, it can be a huge difference on game day. Are you in a good state on game day and feeling charged, or are you feeling tired and overtrained?
Here are key areas to keep in mind:
Keep up your protein, carbohydrate, and caloric intake to match your requirements.
Use common sense when timing what you eat - simple things like avoiding hard to process foods like big roasts or heavy meals the night before a game. Instead, have them earlier in the week, which will keep you trim, but well energised so you can power up on the day.
Water water water water.
When I’ve made finals, I’ve generally cut out all alcohol in the lead up (this is generally easier when it is also a team rule.)
This one is a no-brainer. We need adequate rest to recover and refresh, both physically and mentally, after trainings and game days.
It's a big time of the year. There are a lot of social pressures. Making the team, finding your space, contributing and being a part of the game plan. Putting the effort into developing these relationships can really boost your confidence on game day. My experience of going into finals was as an underdog. On the day, you have no idea what you or your team is truly capable of. You know what you’ve done to get there, but there’s no telling where you and your team can lift to on the day.
Having structures that support growth and trust within the team are important. In addition, a positive and proactive mindset about "failure" allows us to push the boundaries on game day. It let's us strike at opportunities on the field, regardless of the outcome. It also supports the momentum that we've worked hard all year to achieve and maintain.
Training and Fitness
General fitness at this stage shouldn’t be an issue. But finals tend to be a time requiring more explosiveness, physicality and endurance. Knowing how to turn that mindset on at training can begin the process, so that on game day your adrenalin response is on and ready to go. We need that initial burst, but also need to be able keep it up throughout the game.
Keep up your runs on your days between training.
Keep up your other fitness schedules, such as weights programs.
BUT, scale the intensity back a little to conserve some extra energy for when its needed most - creating your own on-field opportunities.
There are always plenty of stories about older players carrying injuries throughout an entire season. I remember my brother once pushed through a sore jaw. Later, it turned out to be broken in three places! (Now he’s like a cyborg with metal plates for a jaw bone.)
Some injuries can be supported through return to play. With the right advice, it's possible to reduce the negative impact they have on your performance. While other injuries require rest, plain and simple. It is important to acknowledge the body's innate healing time and avoid the risk of further injury down track. In the heat of a finals campaign, this can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Quality advice is the key. Reach out when injuries occur, or when niggly symptoms persist.
Please call the clinic if we can help in anyway.
Hayden Cohen is available at Quay Osteo Mon - Fri.