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Many players spend a lot of time preparing themselves for a training session and games by improving their diet and changing their lifestyle.  This helps them perform at their best.  However, many players also forget about how to treat their body post-games.  What you eat and drink after a game is just as important if not more important that what you have before a game… because you are preparing yourself for the future.  Think of the analogy of your car.  If you do not put the right fuel in, the car won’t function.  In fact, you could even do damage to your vehicle.  The importance of eating properly post-games will be discussed further below.   

As we age the recovery from games becomes a longer process.  We have to spend more time and focus on specific areas of our body.  The better you take care of your body, the faster you will be able to return to the pitch and the long your career will be. 

Often time’s people think that because they are over a certain age that they can longer play and simply accept that their best days are behind them.  Obviously players under the age of thirty, specifically late twenties, are young enough to perform at a high level yet have much experience to be in their prime. Nonetheless, all players regardless of age and level of competition should treat their body properly.  It will also carry over and make you feel more alert mentally which will help you in other areas of life.   

Former Italian and AC Milan captain, Paolo Maldina, could not have played in the Italian Serie A until the age of forty without properly taking care of his body, especially after competitions.  During a match your body will burn a lot of calories and energy.  Thus it is important re-energize your body.  Prior to a game eating and properly hydrating will prepare your body for the game.  The same principle holds true for after a game.  Your body needs a lot of water and more pasta.  Spaghetti or lasagna are my favorite pasta meals prior to a game.  I like to re-hydrate 1-2 liters of water with water within the first thirty minutes after a game while eating a meal within the first 1-2 hours after a game.  You will feel much better the evening after a game and in the coming days.  This will help you get back into training routine and performing at a high level again.   

It is important to re-hydrate by drinking a lot of water.  On a normal day you should be drinking around 3-4 liters of water.  Do not wait a while and then chug large quantities of water.  Your body can only sustain so much at a time and this isn’t efficient.  For best results carry a bottle with you and drink a little bit at a time or every 5-10 minutes.  This way your body will not be water logged and you won’t feel so full and heavy throughout the day and during your game. 

Common mistakes/what not to eat:  having beer, pop or sugared drinks after a match is a common mistake by many soccer players.  Also, eating fatty and greasy foods does not help your body recover.  In fact, these liquids and foods will have the opposite affect and make your body even more tired and lethargic.  As well, your muscles will take longer to repair.  For the best recovery, stay away from these foods and stick to water and pasta.  High quality protein shakes also help with repairing muscles.   

Even if you are a younger player, taking care of your body is just as important as for older players.  Your body will repair itself faster than an older player but it is still important to properly treat your body in order to receive best results.  Do not get into the habit of thinking you are invisible to the quality of your health.

What you do away from the pitch is just as important as on the pitch to prepare you and make you better.  The best in the world did not get to where they are today simply by having skill.  There is a lot of other work they had to put in away from the pitch and changes to their lifestyle.    

The good part is that taking care of your body and eating the right nutrients is quite easy actually.  The first little bit might take some time to adjust.  However, once you make the adjustments you will feel better and notice the difference.  If you are serious about raising your game to the next level (by reading this blog you are already showing you are) then you’ll be able to take the right steps.  You will begin to notice those who do not take care of their body and how it affects them.  Eat right, play better…again and again.   

What do you have post-games?  How does it work for you?

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