Can someone explain this to me?

I’ve played 2 big games in 7 days.
I play both rugby and a sport similiar to lacrosse called hurling.
Hurling is a very fast, skillful field based 15 a side game over 70minutes.
Both game1 and 2 below are hurling

Game 1:
Championship quarter final against very good opposition
Weather - Very hot
Diet - Pasta feed up night before 2pm game the next day. Oats, honey and banana’s 3 hours before game
Prep morning of game - physically nothing, bar some stretching. Mentally - i repeated my ‘statemnt’ over and over. Did some visualisation and relaxation mental exercises

Result - I was very nervous, played poorly, nearly had a heart attack 20mins into first half, felt very out of breath. Skill level was only 50%. Performance was one of the worst of the year.

Game 2:
League Final against mediocre opposition
Weather - perfect

Diet - crap - ate 2 burgers all day before a 7pm game. Lucosade sport and banana’s
Prep before game - On the quiet i played a 7’s rugby tournament, which was very tough. Got sunburnt, hurt my shoulder etc. Nothing mental. Didnt really care about the game, een though it was the second biggest game i’ve played in this year.

Result - Vast improvement in performance. Skill was approx 90% - didnt miss many touches. Flew through the game, never out of breath.

Now granted there was a difference in opposition, but i felt so much better on Game2.

The question is why is this?
How do i replicate it?

A coach told me years ago, that he used to run 10miles the morning of a game. He was one of the greatest players ever in my sport. I cant understand what it does, but it works. Anytime i’ve played 2 games in one day. The second has always been some of the best stuff i’ve ever played


Couple of possibilities:

  1. Sounds like you were putting a lot more pressure on yourself before the first game. You tried to do everything “right” but even that may have backfired in the sense that it made you more uptight about your performance. What is your normal routine before a game?

Playing loose and not caring about the game (as long as you are giving your best) can actually be a good thing because you become less focused on the outcome and can stay in the moment.

  1. The game you played well was in the evening (7pm) while the one you didn’t was in the afternoon (2pm). When do you normally train? Generally it is a good idea to try to do your training at the same time as your important matches.

  2. From a nutritional standpoint, game 1 had little protein compared to game two. Again, what is your normal nutritional program?

My approach for big competitions is not to try to do anything special in any aspect (warmup, nutrition, mindset) and just relax and repeat what I have been doing in training. Trying to do something special usually results in less than optimal results.

Protein before a game? I hadnt heard of this? How much, and when, and what are its benefits? I had heard of it being useful, but only barely.

I try to not do anything special either pregame, but most of our biggest games are 2pm, or 3:30pm on Sunday. Every other game during the year is weekday evenings, bar 1 or 2 games.

So what i need is a formula for before games.

What im thinking is about 5 hours before a game, to do maybe 30mins of intense exercise. Maybe 2 mile jog, full warmup, sprints and ball work.

This seems to be constant. Some exercise the same day before-hand works perfectly.

I doubt it was the food intake per se.

I think it’s a combination of

  1. Heat (which tends to exacerbate issues with central fatigue)
  2. Mental stress (e.g. you noted not caring about the second event and being anxious about the first).

So you got yourself all worked up in a situation (heat) that tends to make the issues worse.

Trying to hard in game 1 (mentally & physically), putting pressure on yourself.

High fatigue levels (“nearly had a heart attack 20mins into first half, felt very out of breath”) impacts on skill & technique.

Same in soccer with me. More mistakes (missed passes/poor control etc) are made towards the end of games when fatigue is higher. Heat can also accelerate fatigue.

i use a Polar rs800sd in my training plans (not sprinting but endurance training) and have been studying the effects of training using this watch and what info i can find on the subject.

An easy 10km the day before - esp if in fact it is easy, not just perceived, but im talking around 70 - 75% of max Heart rate. Which sounds easy to do, but does take some time to learn to run That SLOW. It infact acts as a recovery session for the heart and the organism as a whole.

I stumbled across this when 1st getting into it. I had a hard week, my morning Heart rate values were increasing each day, i had one day off from running and the morning Heart rate only dropped slightly. So fri i did a Hard hills workout then the following day a long 20km slow run. I was expecting by Sunday morning my Heart rate in the morning to be sky high and ready for 3-4days of real easy work.
Instead my Heart rate Was completly RECOVERED on Sunday morning.
Slightly sore thighs from the 20km, but otherwise Very Low Heart rate readings using the Set-up included in the watch.
Also felt fantastic too :slight_smile: ready to go.

since then, i have noticed, if i want to do a good hard workout, a day off before will leave me feeling pretty heavy and flat, whereas a 10km easy run at 130beat Heart rate average will leave me feeling much fresher. The more run down or tired, the more days in a row i need of such training.

I have also noticed it helps clear the body of the Cold and Flue better too :slight_smile:

Also, the diet leading into your 1st game would have sent your Insulin levels sky high, and crashed by the time the game started.

Mental/emotional fatigue most likely