Bart Bialkowski Matchday Routine
Millwall goalkeeper Bart Bialkowski talks us through his Saturday matchday routine when the Lions are playing at The Den…
This is the time I normally wake up on a matchday. When I was younger, I didn’t sleep that well before a game. I would try and visualise the game and would worry quite a bit, but now I sleep well and get a good eight or nine hours in bed. When I wake up, the first thing I do is go for a cold shower – which is something I do every morning – then I’ll have a bottle of water, followed by a cup of coffee. The rest of the time is spent just chilling.
I don’t eat breakfast on a matchday, just my pre-match meal of avacado on toast and some baked beans, which I’ll have before I leave my home. It provides me with all the carbs and protein I need for the game itself. I don’t like being full during the game; when I was younger, I found myself eating quite a bit before games and just wasn’t feeling right once we’d kicked off, a bit too heavy, but what I eat now is enough for me to get through the game.
We have to be at The Den one hour and 45 minutes before kick-off but due to the London traffic, I will give myself plenty of time. I’m still one of the earliest arrivals, so will get changed, have a chat with the guys, then go to the gym for my pre-activation work. I’ll do five minutes on the bike, some stretching and will decide on which gloves I’m going to wear. I do this before every training session as well, so it’s a routine I’m used to.
It’s time to go out onto the pitch for my warm-up routine. I will start with some mobility exercises across the box for five minutes, then I’ll go into some passing drills, some longer kicking, then into the goal for a few hand drills. Then it’s half volleys from the goalkeeper coach [Lee Turner], then low shots and another set of low dives before we go into crossing. After that we do some angle shooting: right angle, left angle, four or five shots from each, then I’ll receive four or five shots from the middle of the goal and outside of the box. I’ll then take two or three goal kicks and that’s me done. I’ve been happy with my warm-up routine for the past seven or eight years but it’s a pretty standard warm-up for most keepers, covering all aspects of the game: crossing, kicking, shots and dives. I’m then ready for the kick-off.
Once I get back into the changing room at half-time, I’ll chat to our goalkeeping coach before the gaffer steps in for his half-time team talk. Then I’ll go out for a quick warm-up before the second half of the game. It will always be four volleys and two half-volleys just to give me that feeling with the football again.
After the game I will have a warm-down. It’s not the same as the outfield players but I will spend five minutes on a bike, then ten minutes in an ice bath. I’m big on the cold showers and ice baths, having three a day, and that’s my recovery. I’ll also have protein shakes and other supplements as well once I’m back in the changing room. After a shower we’ve also got food at the stadium. I’m vegan, so will have my carbs, proteins and vegetables, whatever has been prepared for us.
Back home. I’ll get home to see my family and I try not to think about the football too much. It’s time to relax and I always keep my work away from home life, which is a peaceful place. We’ll spend together, watch some TV but it’s always hard to sleep Saturday night because the adrenaline is still flowing round the body. We always have Sundays off, which is a bonus, but Monday soon comes around, where it all starts again...