Gamedays are always my favorite days of the year.
I’m super competitive and gameday is the ultimate competitive test. I get to put all of the practice and preparation to work by doing everything I can to help my team win! I absolutely love it!
But what goes into the mental preparation for a game on gameday?
From an outside perspective, it looks like players just show up in the locker room, get ready for warm-ups, and play the game when the referee blows the whistle. Pretty simple, right? Not so much. There’s so much more that goes into the mental preparation to perform your very best on gameday.
Personally, there are five things I must do every gameday to get my mind right to compete at my best.
Breathing – The breath is something that can always bring you back to the present moment. When you focus on the steadiness and flow of your breathing you’re able to calm yourself down and bring your awareness to where you are in that exact moment! I always try to do it at least three times a day: first thing when I wake up, right before warmups, and right before game time. It’s a simple and effective practice.
Visualization – Visualizing is when you play out the moments of the game in your head to accommodate your mind to performing those actions. I like to visualize me executing successful tackles, passes, turns, shots, and blocks so I can get ready to do them in the game. Such a powerful and motivating tool to use!
Positive Self-talk – Your body will always respond to what your mind thinks and says about yourself. This is why it’s so important to talk to yourself in a positive way! A couple of simple phrases that helped me out when I first started this practice are, “I can do it” and “I like myself”. These are two phrases you can repeat to yourself to build up self-esteem and confidence. When your confidence is high and you have great belief in yourself, your skills, and all the work you’ve put in, your performances will be more better and more consistent.
Quick, but effective Workout – I’m a huge advocate for lifting weights on gamedays. A lot of people ask, “Doesn’t it make you tired, though?” But for me, it actually does the opposite! Working out and exercising tends to release dopamine and serotonin, the body’s “happy” neurotransmitters (this basically means they boost your mood). This is especially helpful for me because I get eager and anxious for game time to come around. Getting a quick workout helps reduce my anxiety and prepares me even better for the game. On top of that, it helps prepare my muscles, joints, and ligaments for 90+ minutes of competition!
Getting the right “Hype” level – Getting motivated and “hyped up” for a game is crucial to your energy levels out on the field. However, it must be controlled throughout the day leading up to the game. If you are at a peak “hype level” right when you get out of bed because it’s gameday, it will be very tough to maintain that energy up until game time (trust me on this one ?). This is why breathing is so important throughout the day. As the day goes on, I gradually begin to ramp up my energy levels with visualization, positive self-talk, music, and a quick workout to prepare the body.
There are a lot of things that go into the mental preparation on gameday. I encourage you to look back and reflect on some of your best performances. And then on some of your worst. What was the difference? Was it in your preparation? If you’re not sure, experiment with my gameday routine. Or create one of your own. It’s important to find what works for YOU.
There’s no doubt that my gameday routine help prime me mentally and physically to be at my best for kickoff. I hope that this helps and encourages you to develop your own gameday grindset! And if there’s anything that we at Soccer Resilience® can do to help you with this, please give us a shout: email@example.com, 336.575.3324
Brandt Bronico, #13 Charlotte FC