It's game day for most women footballers in the UK and I am guessing there are may different ways of preparing. Some players will be enjoying their pre-game breakfast, some will be in airports to get to games, others will be with teammates on a bus hopefully enjoying the extra time together or some may still be enjoying their bed.
We all prepare different for our games. Some of us need to be relaxed right up until kick off, some may need to blast up the tunes driving to the ground, some like to be buzzing for quite a while before. It's important that each person knows what works for them. Do you play better when you are feeling calm? Do you play better when you are buzzing? Key to preparation is knowing where you need to be at as far as feelings, thoughts and behaviour, not only for during the game but the lead up to it.
Think about a match that you felt so good about before, during and after and this will help you work out how to get your peak performance. What did you do the night before? The morning of? Right before kick off? What works for you?
Each player works differently which is why even for coaches to understand preparation and cater for players. Do you incorporate 5 mins in the warm up for players to prepare themselves in the areas they feel they need? Do you allow for players to speak up in team talks to increase responsibility? Allowing players to take ownership of roles off the park will help them be responsible on the park. Just as players are the ones responsible for their pre-game preparation!
Lastly, pre performance routines are great to help with consistently but the successful players are those who are able to adapt to changes. Adapt to things outwith their control. Sometimes we haven't included hiccups in our routines so that could be being stuck in traffic, not being allowed on pitch to warm up, even a big night out the night before or even after the game. By not focusing on these things, allows us to put our energy into the game. We only have 90 minutes on the park, how many of these minutes can you give your all? How many of these will you touch the ball? Research suggests about 2 minutes each person. This isn't a lot of time, therefore, concentration and focus off the ball is crucial to success. If you allow your mind to wander to the things we cannot control, it's distracting us from the things we can. We can control our effort and our attitude. Effort and attitude. Focus on these things today whilst being as prepared as possible and see how you feel after the game. Enjoy! It's game day!
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.