Coping with fixture congestion

Has the Christmas snow left you with a fixture pile-up? Not to worry: Derby County’s strength and conditioning coach Steve Haines offers advice on how to train, eat and sleep through the backlog

Ease back in training
Playing twice a week puts your  body under a lot of stress and can lead to injury and fatigue. The solution is simple: wind down your training. “When you have a lot of games in quick succession it’s important that you adapt your training accordingly, especially the day after a match,” says Steve Haines. “That’s not to say you take it easy, but rather that you adopt short intense sessions. This way you retain your fitness but decrease the chance of picking up an injury.”

Don’t skip the stretches
Stretching is important, but never more so than when you’re playing every few days. “It’s vital that you don’t neglect your pre-match and pre-training warm-up and post-match and post-training warm down,” says Haines. “For a lot of players, if they’re going to take a shortcut somewhere during a busy period, it’s often with their warm-up and stretching, as players can find them boring. Do that when you’ve got a number of games in a short space of time and you risk injury. Not something you want during a busy period. 

More after the break

Carbs are key
The last thing you want during a busy period is to run out of steam. “When faced with a number of games in quick succession it’s vital you fuel yourself properly,” says Haines. “A carb-rich meal the night before the game and then a few hours before kick-off on the day of the match will ensure you’re not running on empty by the end of every game. Drinking Powerade ION 4, will help too; not only does it provide a hit of carbs to fuels you through a game, it’ll aid your recovery post-match by replenishing your lost energy stores. In fact, it could be the difference between winning and losing.”  

Sleep on it
All those extra hours on the pitch require devoting more time to your bed. “You can’t put your body through that workload without giving it more recovery time,” says Haines. “This is why it’s essential you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. One thing we tell all the players at Derby is that an hour of sleep before midnight counts for double. Be in bed by 10pm and you’ll definitely feel the difference the next day.”

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