Written By: Lindsey Wilson, ESPNHoopGurlz The summer schedule is hectic. You move from gym to gym, it's loud, it's crowded and it's hot. This makes it really easy to not have a pregame routine, but it also makes it even more necessary. When athletes don't have a routine to prepare themselves mentally, they start packing their backpacks of emotions, often without even realizing it. While they are talking to their teammates before a match they notice a college scout walk in, as they stretch they start noticing the opposing team and how tall/athletic they are/aren't, during the warm-up they worry whether their shot is going in or not. Their mind wanders, fear and worry about the outcome mount, and unproductive thoughts circle in their heads.
A pregame routine doesn't include which shoe you tie first, or insisting on making your last shot before you run in for the huddle. A true pregame routine gives an athlete time to relax, affirm in her mind her talents and hard work, get excited about the competition, and focus on the game while blocking out external distractions. Many athletes like to listen to music, which is a great way to tune out and focus. Not sure how to create your own pre-game routine to optimize your performance? 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. Below is also a book I highly recommend students check out: