It is time again for the 3-week frenzy we call March Madness, a basketball tournament that never disappoints. The teams battle it out, game-by-nerve-wracking-game until it comes down to the FINAL FOUR. Then, the real pressure begins. With bragging rights, unimaginable glory and a National title in sight, it all comes down to mindset, determination and who plays the better game!
Millions of college b’ball fans band together, from various places, to watch and dissect each and every game. They sport their team colors with confidence, route for their favorite players, participate in office bracket wagers and, of course, cheer until their hoarse! It is definitely an unmistakably exciting time for supporters & players. A chance for them to get dressed, play hard and show off their skills to the masses! Despite the large amount of partying and nail-biting game play, people don’t always realize the silent work that takes place prior and during the events.
Remember, these NCAA basketball players are students first. For them to participate in the celebration, back-to-back game-play and long weekends, each one of the players will have to take time to study for exams and will forgo other pleasurable past times to take advantage of study hall. Now, that you know it’s all enjoyable debauchery, let’s dive deeper into how these gifted student-athletes prep for such a strenuous schedule.
The following categories need very specific attention when prepping for March Madness:
Now, more than ever, it is important for the coaches and players to home in on their nutrient intake. Peak performance is reliant on identifying—quantity, quality and timing for foods and fluids for each athlete. The only true way to determine these is based on the athletes own genetic make-up, however, there are general practices that will keep them fueled for action. With all the travel, each athlete should know how often their body needs hydrate and consume more food; as well as ensuring the availability of quality protein (for recovery), carbohydrates (for replacement and energy management) fat (to account for extra energy expenditures) and fluids. (with electrolytes maintain hydration levels & functionality).
You can bet that all of these players have specific nutrition plans to follow months and months before the big tournament.
Mental toughness plays an important role in big tournaments, because of the high-pressure stakes, increased window for anxiety and anticipation of the BIG STAGE. All of the student athletes who participate in March Madness are talented, train hard and play with heart, but there is a champion mindset that sets well-matched skills apart from each other. This, my friends, is will power. A strong determination and a do-whatever-it-takes mentality to make something happen.
Coaches will do their best to simulate tournament-like play for each practice, leading up to the big games; because the more these athletes are exposed to pressure, the better they will keep their composure when it is critical.
Rest & Recovery
While Cinderella stories and coach rivalries fight for headline space, all it takes is a few lines about a player’s injury to break a fan’s perfect bracket and end a team’s season in the blink of an eye. From the very first game on, a NCAA basketball team embarks on a marathon of a schedule, like that of the pros, in hopes that they come out on top. The college players have to adjust to the limited rest, increased travel, time changes and foreign arenas. Now, more than ever, they must focus on sleep patterns and quality of rest. During this intense period, the coaching staff will monitor the athlete’s output and minutes played, more readily, allowing more time for revitalization and recovery work in between. Without proper rest & recovery the players are at major risk for injury and experience may see decreases in coordination, strength & their cardiovascular performance.
Unfortunately, all college teams do not have equal budgets, which means their recovery options may vary. Generally speaking, the players will head straight to the showers after a game, and then make their way to the athletic training room for massages, ice baths and stretching. All of these practices are to prevent injury. Each athlete will be experiencing high levels of fatigue, no exceptions, and their chances of a muscle strain, or more serious injury significantly increases. During March Madness and the vigorous game schedule, coaches will not let injured players onto the court, because there is simply no extra time for them to recover if it worsens.
You know that prior to the tournament each of the team’s staff is putting the players through a heightened level of training sessions, in the weight room and on the court. It is important for each player to achieve peak physical condition at the perfect moment and go into the games with their confidence through the roof. The lives of these athletes, months before March Madness, consists of studying, two-a-day sessions, sleep and not much more.
(Life of a potential March Madness Team Champion)
According to Jeff Janssen, who runs North Carolina’s Janssen Sports Leadership Center, the qualities that make March Madness Champions are the 4 C’s, commitment, confidence, character and composure!
“Does your team have what it takes?”
All of the March Madness players work hard, play hard and recover hard, before and during the big games. We hope you realize how much goes into preparing for the tournament, not only for the athletes, but for the entire college athletic community.
Athletic Genetix was created to empower and educate athletes, using their DNA to derive game-changing plans to fuel their future.
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Learn More about NCAA performance education — http://www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/nutrition-sleep-and-performance-educational-resources