Your pre game preparation up to this point may have had you walking off the pitch asking yourself questions like:
"I don't get it, one day I play great, the next I couldn't do anything right, it's not like I've changed as a player over night, what's my issue?"
"Man I was so ready to go last week, but this week I'm just not feeling it for some reason, what's that all about?
Well if one day you prepare yourself a certain way, then the next a different way and so on, it's only normal you're going to have varied performances and results. Preparation proceeds excellence, and training your body and mind in the same way before each performance allows your pre game preparation to become more systematic and routine like.
If repetition is the father or learning then routine is his father. Setting a stable routine that gets yourself at it's optimal working condition allows for repetition within that routine and consistent outcomes.
Before your head spins off and you start bleeding from the ears trying to understand all that, remember it also takes time to train these pre performance routines.
Soooooooo what's the magic perfect pre game performance routine that will get you playing your absolute best every single time you step out on the pitch!?! (DRUMROLLL PLEASEEEEE)
Sorry to break it to you, there is no ONE perfect routine that works for everybody, you need to find out what works for YOU! You need to tinker with what gets you where you need to be, and that will be different for us all.
What gets Frankie revved up may make Johnny nervous and what gets Mikey focused may relax Timmy too much. With that in mind you need to find and play with what works for you, and thinking you're going to figure it out in a game or two or a month or two is setting yourself up for failure. It takes time, patience, confidence and reflection to understand what level of arousal you need to maintain going into a match.
But of course as always, in case you need a little jump start, here are some that I've used at the college and professional levels.
Pre-Game Prep Techniques Examples:
1) Listening to music that pumps me up
2) Listening to music that calms me and relaxes me
3) Going for a walk and clearing my head
4) Reading self affirmations back to myself
5) Keeping loose by joking around with a close friend
6) Calling and talking to people who are close to me mom/dad/brother/girlfriend
7) Picturing my every move on the field in a quiet spot
9) Reading my self confidence letter back to myself
10) Playing video games
Again these are just examples, trying some of these mixed with your own ideas will get you on the right initial track.
Before I found my pre game routine at the college level I was at the end of my 3rd year after experimenting for close to that long with it. By the time I started playing professionally in Europe I thought I had it figured out but again it evolved as I played at a higher level. That means that your pre game routine after you have it set in stone may change here or there based on how you develop as a person and player.
Every pro has a pre performance routine or some sort of pre game preparation they go through. Some very serious others laid back and everywhere in between. What works for you will take some trial and error, but it's important to remember the steps you went through prior to the game when you were successful and not so successful. At first it will be hit or miss, but eventually as you start to gain a better understanding of what elevates your game you will start to see the picture more clearly. It takes time so think of it as a work in progress.
What's My Pre Game Preparation Like You Ask?
Well it did take me some time to get it just right like any part of my game but I got it to the point where my performance became constantly outstanding. Here goes nothing...
So first I'd usually give myself about 45min prior to the game to start my routine, the first 15 I would walk into the change room and mess about with the guys a bit having a laugh or two.
Then I would slowly get changed keeping to myself mostly, for about 5 minutes.
After I got changed I'd start reading two pages of quotes I developed from players and coaches I've been with that have said something that stuck with me (compliments, inspiring words etc). Took about 5 minutes.
I'd put on this one song (no Elton John hits here) that really raised my arousal level to the right point. I'd read these over then I had a self affirmation letter i wrote to myself that I'd read at that time, twice if I needed to. 10 Minutes
After that I'd start pumping up my teammates with some words, "you're gonna terrorize them today" etc. 5 minutes worth.
One last look at my locker, a look at some pictures of my family, 5 more minutes there. Tell myself "Here's your chance, take it" and I was off.
Right nothing fancy about my pre game preparation but got me ready to perform and I did that every time before every match and it worked for me. Yours may have more or less steps, again you need to find our what is true for you.
Now it's your turn to find out what it is you need to do to get ready for battle.