Top 10 Worst Thoughts Before Game Time
- “I have to…”
- “I need to…”
- “I ought to…”
- “I should…”
- “I must…”
- “This is it OR This is everything..”
- “Do or die”
- “Make it or break it”
- “It’s now or never”
- “Don’t miss “OR “Don’t (anything)”
All competitions and practices are important, but nothing is “special.” When you make a particular competition “special,” you are most likely to put additional pressure on yourself, which can cause you to change your approach and deviate from the very actions that got you success up until this point in time. Most likely adding this pressure will cause a physical response in the body tightening up. It is impossible to play any sport well when you are tight. Soccer requires a level of intensity yes, but it also requires your body to be loose and agile, not tight and rigid. You need to be able to change directions on a dime, maneuver around defenders, kick with power, and react quickly.
It is best to use phrases like, “I will,” “I choose to…” “I want to,” “I’m going to.” Approach competition with a willful attitude, not an obligatory one.
Pep talks are Hollywood. Listen to Olympic and professional athletes interviews. They always speak about consistency. In the real world, great athletes stress “being myself,” “doing my own thing,” “Being me.” It is impossible to have consistent performances without consistent thoughts, feelings, and actions. We know that we can control the way we feel by controlling our thoughts. Our feelings follow our thoughts, not the other way around.
Even if you are heading into the championship playoffs, your thoughts should be consistent with the rest of the season that got you to that game. When you have the mentality that every practice is just as important as any other, and every game is just as important as the championship game, you will have a great season. To bring this approach into the game, remember to have the same intensity level, killer instinct, and effort in the first minute of the game as you do in the last. You should not be getting to the last few minutes in the game and begin thinking that you need to turn up the heat! You should have had the fire going the whole game!
In other words, great performers approach their sport with high intensity, confidence, and serenity each practice and each competition. They rarely change their approach, strategy, or mindset physically or mentally before one competition, and neither will you.