Develop a pregame mental routine to help drive consistency

By Dr. Chris Carr | Posted 9/23/2014

One of the key elements to playing your best is to be mentally ready for the competition. Unfortunately, most athletes don’t work on mental readiness, and this is when upsets occur.

The ability to focus, concentrate, regain composure and maintain discipline are greatly related to how much the athlete has prepared for the mental demands. One good tool is to have a consistent pregame mental routine, where you go through the same mental preparation for each game or competition, regardless of the opponent.

Here are some tips for creating your own pregame mental routine:

  • Start your imagery of the game the night before and visualize success.
  • Focus on deep breathing during the bus ride or drive to the game.
  • Use music or quiet thought to visualize making great plays.
  • Keep your thoughts on the present – one play at a time.
  • When you have distractions in your mind, find a way to “release” them by writing it down and tearing it up.
  • Write down a cue word on your wrist that you associate with your own optimal performance.
  • Use the same routine before every game or competition.
  • Love what you do, and do what you love.

This routine will help you to keep mentally focused before, during and in recovery of your game.

Dr. Chris Carr is the sport and performance psychologist and coordinator for sport and performance psychology at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis. He is the team performance psychologist for the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever and a consulting sport psychologist for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Purdue University athletics.