Last week we talked about the mental side of preparing for a tournament. Today, we focus on how you can decide to play your best on game day.
Set Yourself Up for Success
You have made the investment to properly prepare for a tournament, mentally and physically. The night before the big event, I want you to:
- Hydrate: Tournaments are long and hard. It isn’t enough to carry water or a sports drink to the court. Make certain you start hydrating the day and night before the event.
- Set Goals: In the prior post we talked about creating strategies for each match. These should capitalize on your strengths and deal effectively with any weaknesses. (For example, if you know your backhand is vulnerable, test out different court positions, perhaps stacking, to favor your forehand.) Set a goal that you will adhere to the strategy during the heat of battle. It is okay to change, but make it a conscious decision (which you share with your partner) rather than just a mindless reaction to a difficult game.
- Positivity Goal: Perhaps the most important goal you can set is to stay focused, and stay positive. Commit to yourself and your partner you are not going to pack it in…regardless of how it’s going. Stay positive, with your partner and yourself.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Make sure you rest, and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Repeat your positive goals and affirmations to yourself as you float off to sleep.
Prepare for a Stressfree Day
Just a bit of preparation can make a huge difference when it comes to your stress level on the day of competition. Knowing where you are going, and arriving early is critically important. You don’t want to be rushing to the court as you hear “Final Call…”
Prepare snacks and hydration ahead of time. You don’t want to be looking for a light snack and find the only onsite option is grilled hamburgers. Prepare yourself early, and minimize the likelihood of putting yourself in an even more stressful situation. Set yourself up for success.
Plan Your Warm Up & What You Will Do Between Matches
Create goals around warming up and what you will do between matches. Decide to warm up properly, then do it. Warm up is more than a few dinks or serves. Have a plan for how you will warm up, and how you will stay loose between matches. Some people like to listen to music. Others, like me, need to keep moving. Some need to sit in a quiet place to refocus their mind. Learn what works best for you, then commit to it all day long.
If you and your partner have different styles between matches, talk about it. Perhaps she relieves stress by yacking it up with other players…while you prefer a quiet corner. Know what works for you, and stick to it.
Decide to Play Your Best
The most important factor is mental preparation. You need to decide to play your best. What are the things you need to feel comfortable and confident on the court? Let go of outside distractions and focus on your needs as a player. Stay focused and remind yourself of your intentions and your goals on the court. What are you trying to accomplish? How are you going to do that?
When you encounter a road block, commit to solving the problem in front of you. Make the adjustments needed to get what you want.
Set small goals that are achievable throughout the day. If your sole goal is “winning the gold medal”…well that might be difficult. Instead, focus on what you can do right now and throughout the day that will lead to that goal.
- You can stay focused.
- You can stay positive.
- You can follow the strategy that has been laid out.
- You can stay hydrated and nourished.
Give yourself small, measurable goals along the way. Each is absolutely essential when you decide to play your best. By accomplishing each, you are building a habit of success. Focus on the process, rather than the outcome when you compete.