As an athlete, you need to find a game day routine that works for you.
You want to be mentally prepared so you can reliably and repeatedly achieve peak performance.
Unfortunately, many athletes end up mentally burnt out by game time, while others are not prepared enough and start the game off too tense, too casual, or just flat out too slow.
The Sweet Spot
The goal is to start your game off in the sweet spot – relaxed yet focused.
This is best described with Optimal Arousal Theory – which originated in 1908 by psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson (diagram below).
If your arousal level is too high – you are too amped up – you end up too tense and under performing.
If you overcompensate and play it too cool, you end up lacking focus.
Everyone’s sweet spot is unique to them, so don’t copy someone else’s. Find out what your sweet spot is, then build your game day routines to help you reliably get there every day.
Here are the top 10 do’s and do not’s of game day routines so that you can be mentally prepared to achieve Consistent Elite Performance:
1. Do Not Overthink
Too many athletes overthink about the game. By game time they have played the game in their head multiple times and are mentally burnt out. Click here to check out how you can prevent overthinking by thinking differently.
2. Do Not Overuse Social Media
Too much time on your phone or on social media can clutter your mind with junk. Take control of your phone and learn how to protect your mind from the mental junk.
3. Do Not Obsess about Results
Most athletes get consumed by results. They try to predict the outcomes and engage in unhealthy comparisons with others. This is the number one mental block holding athletes back. Click here to learn about how you can stop obsessing about results by embracing the power of acceptance.
4. Do Not Use Superstitions
Rituals and routines are helpful as you will see below. But the problem with superstitions is when you think doing x causes y and then one day you can’t do x – then your whole game gets thrown off.
5. Gradual Build Up
Plan the segments of your day so that you are not under or over stimulated. Use the following list of do’s to help build your game day routine. See the diagram at the bottom for the final product.
Intentionally unplug and relax. Spend time thinking and doing other things outside of your sport. You can’t spend your whole day obsessing about your sport – you will mentally burn yourself out. Music is also a great way to help relax. You should intentionally choose the music in your pre-game routine to help you gradually build up to your optimal level of arousal.
7. Prepare & Prime Your Body
Sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Foremost is sleep – it starts days before, not just the night before. Planning for a nap is a common and effective strategy. You also want to get active during the day – don’t be sedentary all day. Figure out your optimal pregame mobility & activation exercises, as well as the technical drills to help you get into the feel of the game. You should also know what and when you are eating on game days.
10 minutes of visualizing your personalized imagery script is a fundamental mental preparation strategy. We recommend doing this about 3 hours to 30 minutes before game time. Click here to learn 5 key tips to effective visualization.
9. Reset Routine
You may have other rituals that help you get into your optimal state, but the fundamental strategy that we use with athletes is the Reset Routine. It provides a reliable and repeatable way to tap into your sweet spot before game time. Learn more about how you can block out the noise with a Reset Routine by clicking here.
10. Post-Game Routine
This matters for multiple reasons. Foremost you want to be able to effectively process the game – regardless of the result. You own the success and learn from the challenges. This is the perfect time to use the Personal Scorecard strategy and reflect on things within your control. It’s also important to learn how to decompress and relax so you can get to sleep. Many sports require quick turnaround times with back to back games. Check out our top relaxation techniques here.
In summary, you need to create a game day routine so you can reliably and repeatedly get into your sweet spot and start your games off on the right track.
I hope you found this helpful.
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