How Do I Improve My Mental Focus On Game Day?
By Emily Briseno, BS
A lot of preparation goes into game day. Hours of film have been analyzed; plays have been drawn up and practiced until athletes can do them with their eyes closed. While the physical part of athletics is important, the mental preparation is just as important, if not more. If an athlete enters competition with a solid game plan, but lacks the focus and confidence to carry that plan out, all the physical preparation has been for nothing. In order to arrive to the court or field mentally prepared and confident, the psychological preparation begins days before the actual competition. Every professional athlete has a routine they do before and on game day whether it is a handshake with a teammate, a certain warm up they do, or even what socks they wear. Some may see these as superstitions or even OCD, but pre-game rituals are essential to instilling confidence and focus before a game.
Below are ideas for a pre-game routine that you can adopt.
– This is something that you can be doing nightly to prepare for a game. Imagine yourself successfully running plays or routes from the playbook. If you are a volleyball player visualize yourself getting the perfect block or getting a kill.
– On game day arrive to the court a few minutes before warm-ups begin, walk through the plays and visualize yourself being successful on the court.
– Have a Game Day playlist on your Ipod. Listen to it on the way to the gym or while you are getting your uniform on. Choose music that gets you into game mode and focuses you on what you need to do to be successful.
– Practice Relaxation Techniques. Take deep breathes as you focus on how to be successful. Remember times in the past that you accomplished your goal, and the steps you took to get there. Take all your worries, anxieties, insecurities, any pressure you might feel and put it in a “box” and remove it from your mind. It no longer exists!
– Have an order that you put on your uniform. Some athletes always put on their right sock before their left, others put their jersey on last. Every Sunday Drew Brees lays out his uniform, puts it on the same way, and ties his shoes the same way. While this might seem a little much, having a routine like this sharpens focus and consistency.
– Some athletes wear the same lucky shoes, the same headband, or have an intricate handshake with their teammate.
There is no right or wrong pregame routine to have, the only thing you can do wrong regarding a pre-game routine is to not have one! When I was a player I would practice visualization as well as listen to a pregame playlist. I would always wear white Nike socks and do the same warm up with the same person every time. Your pregame routine is unique to you. Try developing one and see how your mental game improves!
For additional information on using a pre-game routine for success, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org