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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


Every team and player has their own way of preparing for a match.

Preparation for the next game begins on the first day of training after a match, normally a Monday.

During the course of the week the boss and the coaching staff will have had their reports and watched videos and have us working on certain things.

By Thursday, we work on specific things, and in our last training session on Friday we will work on set pieces.


Most players these days are pretty clued up on dietary matters

If we are travelling to a Saturday away game, we leave after training and lunch on Friday.

These days, for any game north of Birmingham we tend to fly up.

The idea is that we don't spend several hours on a coach and risk our muscles cramping up.

Having said that, for the past three trips we have been delayed at the airport and spent three hours in the departure lounge, which defeated the object a bit!

Once we've checked in to our hotel, there's a chance to relax and chill.

The physiotherapists are always on hand to give us a massage if we want one, other than that, we spend the evening watching films, playing on the Playstation or listening to music.

Southampton players go into their pre-match huddle
Our huddle is all part of the team-building process

Dinner-wise, we're left to our own devices. Most players are pretty clued up these days on dietary matters.

In the past, the traditional footballer's pre-match meal was steak, cooked so rare it was almost still mooing.

But we tend to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and easier to digest than a steak, stuff like pasta, chicken and fish.

After dinner, we go back to our rooms and wind down, ready to go to sleep.

I tend to room with Wayne Bridge. He's got a similar sense of humour to me, and we know each other's habits well enough to know not to get on each other's nerves.


A dressing-room before a match is a fascinating place, some players are very quiet and reflective, others are bullish, upbeat and chirpy

I normally wake up about nine. Some players are up before that, others lie-in until midday.

I'm a firm believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I tend not to have a full English breakfast, but sometimes I'll have scrambled or poached eggs, toast and perhaps a yoghurt.

I might have another massage to loosen me up, but we meet up about midday for lunch.

It's important to put the right fuel in, but it has to be something light.

So again, it's pasta, chicken, baked potatoes, high-fuel, carbohydrate foods for lunch, along with plenty of water.

After lunch we have our team meeting.

It's normally held in a conference room at the hotel. We normally know by this stage what the starting line-up will be, although the boss will vary it.

At the meeting, he will run through tactical things, and tell us what he requires from each of us individually, and collectively as a team.

When we arrive at the ground I tend to take a seat and spend a few minutes reading the programme.

We then go out and have a look at the pitch, and decide what footwear we need, although that's not as hard a decision as it used to be as most Premiership pitches these days are well-grassed, well-watered and take a full stud.

Players and officials take the field
Everything is geared towards game day

A dressing-room before a match is a fascinating place. Everyone has his own way of preparing for a match. Some players are very quiet and reflective, others are bullish, upbeat and chirpy.

We will go out and have a thorough warm-up, and come back in around 15 minutes before kick-off, to put our match-kit on.

There is one last part of the build-up.

Just before kick-off we go into a group huddle. Some people look on it as an American thing, but we adopted it as a last bit of team-building to pull us together.

We break, drop into our positions and wait for the referee's whistle which is the signal to start the 90 minutes our whole week has been geared around.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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