Half time for many amateur players is an opportunity to take a break, have some water and grab an orange slice. But is there anything more that can be done? Here are some top tips, taken from sports science experts (Russel et al. 2015) on how you can ensure you get the best start to the second half.
Don’t stand still. Of course, it can seem like the easy option, but it’s important to keep moving. Don’t knacker yourself, you’ll want to save some energy for the second half, but allowing your temperature to drop has been shown to have an adverse effect on performance immediately post half-time. Just keep your body moving and it should be enough, an easy suggestion in the journal article is a simple small-sided game. Keep passing the ball at half-time and maintain that edge. You’re allowed to take a small bit of a breather, so think of it more as a re-warm up.
Work the muscles. Okay, I know I’m already telling you to move around, but if you can apply a heavy load to your muscles with roughly 5 minutes to go before the second half starts, then those muscles have ‘Post-Activation Potentiation’. For a more detailed understanding then I would suggest looking at what Russel et al. have to say, but it essentially allows your muscles to fire more rapidly after they undergo a heavy load. So, if you give your pal a piggyback and do some squats, you may find yourself being able to sprint a bit quicker at the start of the half. This can also be used pre-game, but be warned, there needs to be a 3-5 minute cooling off period. It should also be noted that there is still plenty of research to be done into this.
Get Angry. Well, don’t get too angry, we don’t want to go in two-footed straight away. However, watching a 4 minute clip on your phone of something that makes you angry or happy could potentially allow for ‘hormonal priming’. It seems pretty basic, but it can be key. The greatest effect is observed from aggressive responses to videos. So, find what makes you angry and use it. If you love cats, watch that video of the lady who threw the cat in the bin. If you’re a decent human being, watch a Trump video. Easy motivation.
Get re-energised. The most important part of all of this is what you put into your body at half time. It is vital to strike a balance on what you put in, especially in terms of carbohydrates. It is very easy to assume that consuming a lot of carbs will give you more energy, but your body is more finely balanced than that. Too many sugars going into your blood will cause you to release insulin and it will all be taken straight back out again before your muscles can get what they need. A top tip from a nutrition lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, Lindsy Kass, is simply having a small amount of orange juice, a pinch of salt and topping it off with water. The orange juice provides a steady source of carbohydrates, the salt gives you the famous electrolytes you hear about on sports drinks adverts (it literally just means salt) and the water is for that vital rehydration. Have this whilst playing that little re-warm up game and you’ll be ready to face the second half (your blood-sugar levels respond better if carbs are absorbed whilst exercising).
A further burst of energy can come from caffeine gum. Caffeine gum is an effective way of getting caffeine into your system quickly and efficiently without having to down a cup of coffee. Caffeine helps physically but also, vitally, mentally. Having the psychological edge immediately after half time is important, a little burst of caffeine can have you raring to go, and hopefully catch the opposition out whilst they’re still finishing their pie.
There’s been a lot of advice here, so here’s a simplified guide to using those vital 15 minutes in the middle of the game:
|1-2 Min||3-4 Min||5-8 Min||9-15 Min|
|Take a breather||Listen to the manager and chew some caffeine gum||Watch a video that makes you mad or happy, then do some piggy-back squats||Re-warm up with a mini-kick around and drink that salty-orange-drink (SOD, if you like).|