Having a fixed routine in prior to a game or competition is extremely important in striving for peak performance in sports. By having a routine leading up to game time, the athlete is able to minimize any unforeseen circumstances that might affect his psyche for the game, and also allow him to have excellent preparation for the game.
In order for routines to be effective, it must be created as a check list, it should be personalized to the athlete within the framework of the team’s preparation, and finally it should be memorized as much as possible. Here is sample routine check list with some description content for each item that might be useful to athletes.
1. Equipment Check Basically this is to ensure that all necessary equipment are checked and readied. Make sure that nothing is missing. This should be done twice. Once before you go to sleep, and two, just before you leave home for the game. In an earlier article, I have already expounded on equipment preparation. Please go to my site below and read more about equipment check.
2. Mental Imagery Practice Mentally preparing for the game is the key to peak performance in sports. Although it is rostered in at activity number 2, really, mental imagery practice should be done as often as possible for the body and mind to internalize all the skill sequences vital for peak performance in sports. As a guide, mentally rehearse your sports skills while going to sleep. Do it again when traveling to the match. Finally, find the time during game day to retire alone into solitude and mentally rehearse for peak performance in sports again.
3. Talk to Team-Mates This can be done once you get to the games venue or school. Huddle up with your pals from the team and start to talk about the big game coming up. Share your preparation the previous day, share your fears and anxiety, discuss about the technical and tactical aspects of the game, and talk about your opponents, and so on. All these basically allow the athletes to loosen themselves and allow the athletes to feel more at ease as game time approaches.
4. Check on Team Sentiments While chatting up with team-mates, you will also be finding out how the team is doing on game day. Is there anyone emotionally unstable for some reasons? Is there dispute over game plan and strategies? Does the team feel confident or fearful? Team sentiments can affect your play and peak performance in sports tremendously. Imagine if you know that your captain is wreck due to some break-up with his girlfriend that happened the night before. How much confident do you have in your captain in such a case? Surely your game play will be affected.
5. Rest and Diet Remember to factor in time for rest and diet. This is to ensure that the body is boosted to the optimum level in terms of energy levels for the big game. Avoid unnecessary expenditure of energies before the game, apart from warm-up and so on. Prior to the game, intake of the right amount and the right kind of food is also important. This is to ensure that athletes do not screw up with the body systems that need to be at their prime to produce the greatest amount of energy for the game.
6. Team Pep Talk This is often done by the coach, and should be factored into your own personalize routine for peak performance in sports. By being aware of this, you will sub-consciously shape your mind to lead up to this important activity before the game. You can even anticipate what the coach is going to say, or what your captains will say to lift the motivation and morale of the team before the game.
7. Gear up for Game Gearing up for a game must also be made a routine. You will find, on closer study, some players actually go through the same procedures when suiting up for games. Regardless, this is a personal thing and should be practiced as much as possible if it makes the athlete comfortable for the game.
8. Self-Positive Reinforcement Once the physical aspect of game preparation is more or less completed by this stage, it is absolutely important to focus on the mental preparation of the mind again. The mind is infinitely more powerful than the physical body. What the mind envisage as possible the body can do. Very often, it is our mind that limits our abilities and our body will just follow its orders.
The few minutes leading up to game time should be spent mentally rehearsing and positively reinforcing oneself with regards to the skills and tactics required by the athlete. Re-affirming to one-self using sentences like ‘I am good at scoring goals’, ‘I am the fastest person in the race’, ‘I am the best goalie in the league’, etc will produce very positive emotions and morale, leading to peak performance in sports later. Of course, this type of mental training success will only come with practice. Athletes should be encouraged to use these techniques as often as possible.
9. Final Imagery of Game Plan Together with positive self-talk and reinforcement, it is also appropriate for the athletes to go through in his mind as many times as possible the game plan that has been decided upon. This imagery of game plan provides clarity for the athletes regarding what their role is in relation to the overall scheme of things. By being very clear mentally how to execute the game plan under varying circumstances, the reflex thoughts and action of the player are stimulate, producing near instantaneous positive actions when the player is faced with a certain tactical situation. This instantaneous reaction often saves mini-seconds in games, which we know is crucial to getting an upper hand over your opponents.
10. Team Cheer Once all is said an done, nothing rounds up pre-game preparation more than a last, aggressive, solid cheer that will arouse the emotions necessary to play the game at the optimum level. Cheers are rallying cries of people with a common purpose. It set down the stage for all in the team that everyone is important and that each will go out of their way to fight for each other so that success of the team and peak performance in sports is achieved. So go on, have a good, solid final cheer before game time.
These ten points on routine check is critical fine-tuning for peak performance in sports. Very often, when athletes and coaches have done all they could in terms of training preparation, the difference between winning and losing is in the details of pre-game preparation. It is no secret – the winner is the one that prepares themselves best.
Jimmy Tong has been a Physical Educator for 13 Years in Singapore, with degree in sports science and physical education from Loughborough University in UK. He has extensive coaching experience in soccer, floorball and rugby teams in Singapore Schools.He is currently a sports development officer in Singapore schools as well as an active contributor of sports training articles to improve sports performance in athletes. He hopes to enable people’s success to come by inspiring them with true sports motivational and inspirational stories.