Every elite athlete sticks to a tried and true pre-game routine which gives an athlete time to relax, get excited about competition, affirm their talents in their mind, and to focus on the match while blocking out external distractions. Many athletes like to listen to music, which is a great way to tune out and focus in.
Here are Six Pre-Game Steps For Better Mental Toughness:
Close your eyes.
Take five deep breaths, feeling the air move through you.
In your mind, replay three or four of your best performances.
See, hear, and feel everything you experienced in those matches just as if it were happening right now.
Take a few more deep breaths (e.g., count one to five while breathing in, then count one to five breathing out)
Say some positive affirmations to yourself, such as “I am a great rugby player”, “I play hard and leave everything on the pitch”, “Today I will give myself to the game and have fun doing it”, or perhaps, “I’m a passionate leader that drives my team to play hard.”
Notice that the affirmations are not about winning or how many points you will score. Concentrate on playing your hardest, being a great teammate, and having fun. This will make you relaxed yet energized; the perfect combination for peak performance.
Remember, you’ve spent countless hours preparing physically for this season. You have probably spent an equal amount of time hoping that your hard work will pay off. Stop hoping and start doing something about it. You’ll be amazed at what five minutes of mental preparation can do toward allowing you to showcase your hard work.