Preparing for a Game | Q&A with Coach Rich

Today’s Topic: Preparing for a Game


Hey, everybody. My name is coach Rich. I am one of the high-performance coaches with Complete Performance Coaching. One of the questions I get sometimes is, how do I best prepare for a game, or a match, or a competition? Or, how do I help my child prepare? I wanted to just talk about that for a little bit.

Q: How do I Help My Child Prepare for a Game?



The simple answer … Actually, it’s not a simple answer. Unfortunately, the answer is it depends. Every athlete is different. I’ve seen athletes who they kind of isolate themselves. They’ll sit in the corner, maybe have their music going on, not really interacting or socializing with the rest of their team.

Then, I’ve seen the complete other side of that. You’ve got the athletes who are goofing off, having fun, socializing, and sometimes even doesn’t seem like they’re taking the game seriously. That’s how they prepare. That’s kind of what they need to be at their best. Everybody’s going to be different. However, I do think that there are really three things that are important to being prepared both mental and physically.


Sleep and Nutrition

The first two are a little bit different, something we don’t really talk about a whole lot on here, but the first two is just sleep and nutrition. You know, obviously, before you go into any sort of competition, you need to make sure that you have that fuel. You need to make sure that you’re rested, and you have that fuel through food and your nutrition. You’re just ready to go, and you feel good physically.

Marathon runners and other endurance athletes, you know, sometimes in their preparation they’ll do kind of carb loading and things like that. In high school when I played football, our coaches always made sure had a real hearty meal before a game. We would have steak and potatoes or something like that, because that nutrition is a very valuable part of just making sure that you’re physically ready and physically prepared.



The third thing that is important is just confidence. That is probably the most important thing, from a mental standpoint, when going into a competition. Now, how you get that confidence is completely up to you. It’s different for every single person. These are two common ways I build confidence:

  • visualization
  • positive self-talk

I’ve talked on here before about visualization. I’m a big, big believer in visualization because it’s so simple. To me, it’s almost like a video game of yourself, that you’re watching and can completely control and manipulate yourself, as well as your environment. As you’re doing that, you can get used to different possible scenarios that may happen in a game.


preparing for a gameVisualize Every Possible Scenario

When I was playing, I would try to visualize the opponent’s pitcher, and what their uniform looked like and all of those kinds of things. I would visualize every possible scenario that could possibly take place throughout the game. You know, if you’re maybe a gymnast and you’re working on a routine. Just being able to visualize that routine.

The more you see yourself doing it, the more comfortable you’re going to get when it comes time to actually perform that routine. That’s one way to help with that confidence.


Positive Self-Talk

The other way is positive self-talk, making sure that you are doing what you need to do, that you’re telling yourself all these positive things. That you’re just in a good, positive, confident frame of mind. When you do that, you’re going to feel more confident, more ready to play.

Now, I will say the one issue I always ran into when I was trying to prepare for a game is I would sometimes visualize too much. I always thought, “How can you do that? If visualization is such a great tool, how can I possibly visualize too much?” Well, I found a way. For me, when I played, I was sort of a cerebral player. I was always thinking, always processing.

What happened was I would visualize throughout the day, right up to the game and right before the game. When I actually got into the game, I would be spending most of my time just thinking and processing. That’s not how I wanted to play. I need to play very instinctually. When it came time for the game, I needed to kind of just shut all that off and not worry about preparing anymore. Just go out there and play, but that was hard for me to do.

For me, what I needed to do was I needed to stop the visualizing earlier in the day. You know, once it came time for the game, maybe I needed to spend more time with more positive self-talk, or I needed to spend time just kind of just relaxing, and having fun, and doing those kinds of things.


Trial and Error

What I always tell athletes is sometimes it’s just trial and error. You really have to figure out what works best for you guys. I would challenge you to try something. It’s very important to have some sort of a routine as you go into your competition, but challenge yourself. Come up with a routine, something that you think will work for you. And if it doesn’t work, if you don’t feel confident going into the competition, then tweak it. Try something different. See what works for you, because everybody is going to be a little bit different.

Think about kind of the music that people are listening to in locker rooms. Some people will have very hard kind of rap, or rock, or something like that that they’re listening to because they need to get kind of fired up or pumped up, and ready for the game that way. Other people may be listening to more kind of laid back and relaxing music because they want to feel more relaxed.


Everyone is Different

To a certain extent, it kind of just depends on the sport that you’re playing. You know, if you’re playing a sport like football, you probably want to be maybe a little bit more amped up. You know, if you’re a gymnast or you’re in another sport that maybe isn’t as physical and doesn’t have the contact that football does, then you might need to be a little bit more relax and a little bit calmer. For me, I needed to be a lot calmer when I played baseball. My initial sort of reaction was to get amped up. But for me, when I did that, I kind of lost track. I wasn’t able to think and just react as clearly as I would have liked.

Hopefully this helps you guys, just a few quick pointers on how to best prepare for competitions, and games, and matches. If you have any questions, as always, please feel free to ask, and I will be happy to answer them. But, go out and try something different. See what works for you guys, because everybody is going to be a little bit different. I hope you guys have a good rest of your Saturday. I will talk to you guys later. All right, bye.

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