As the first games of the fall sports season gets closer, it’s natural for players to feel increased tension and nervous energy. Some athletes feed off of this tension and become more focused while others manage to ignore it. For some, the pressure can be overwhelming and leads to stress and decreased performance on and off the field.
You’ve trained hard during the offseason and preseason and are ready for competition. The key is establishing a proper mindset and taking action each day to maintain that mindset. Stay focused, ease tension, and solidify your game-day performance by getting your head in the game with these simple strategies:
Establish a morning mindset ritual
You no doubt have a morning ritual in terms of fueling, movement, and personal hygiene. Mindset is just as important. Upon waking, take a moment to give thanks for family, friends, school, and everything that’s right with your life. Consider how your efforts today will elevate others. Visualize the upcoming day, the tasks at hand both on and off the field, and how you will accomplish them.
Visualization isn’t just for the morning. How you visualize yourself performing can ease your mind and raise your confidence. Before a game, think about your best past performance. Use all five of the senses to replay the best parts of that game, thinking of the sounds of the action and the crowd, along with what you saw, heard, and felt. Think, too, in terms of the smells of the game since smell is most closely linked to memory. Then think about your worst game. Use your five senses to replay the game — only with a more positive outcome. (Watch Evan Longoria's take on visualization in baseball)
Perform a gratitude ritual
An attitude of gratitude helps put things in perspective. Before a big game, think about three things for which you are most grateful. It can be sports related or personal, so long as you understand you already have them and they are yours. The simple act of silently giving thanks for the ability to play something you love produces a powerful mindset.
Control your breath
As the excitement of the season or a game approaches, breathing can become short and erratic. Ease tension while focusing on the task at hand with this simple breathing exercise: Breathe in for six seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for 10 seconds. Do this for three minutes.
Remember: You’ve done the hard part in preparing for the season. Instead of struggling with nerves and tension, employ these simple strategies on a daily basis to establish and maintain the proper mindset for success.
What strategies work for you? Comment below.