How To Prepare For Competition

“It’s not the will to win that matters; everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” - Paul “Bear” Bryant

Athletics have always been a big part of my life. From a very young age, I loved sports and I loved competing. As I grew, I realized that being an athlete also meant being prepared mentally for the game and for adversity— that is when you can truly step your game up to the next level.

It’s tough sometimes as a professional athlete to get “into the zone” and prepare for a game. Even though people might think we have fewer problems and difficulties, that’s not true. No matter who I’ve played for or with, we are all human. We all have issues that we have to learn to deal with in life in order to be the very best that we can be when we step out onto the field.

Our jobs are performed in front of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of people- imagine having a bad day or week, and then having to focus on your job so many eyes watching you.

The bottom line is, if you want to perform, you need to know how to get mentally prepared for the game. Here are some of the best ways that I’ve learned how to harness my mental energy for when the clock starts on the field:

Practice... Then practice some more

There really is no better way to be mentally prepared for any competition than to be confident in your skill level. Pre-game jitters or anxiety are bound to happen- it’s a part of life, but knowing that you are physically ready helps to get rid of doubts in your mind about your abilities.

Don’t just practice when you feel like it- practice at those moments when you don’t feel like it, when the will just isn’t there or when you are facing challenges off the field. Preparing at moments when you’re head's not in it will make it easier to set your issues aside and be 100% in the zone during a game

Focus each day

You cannot expect to step onto the field and be mentally prepared if you’re not focused in your everyday life. You need to discover what works best for you to clear the outside noise in order for you to be completely in the game.

Once you discover that focus, be sure to take time each day to get in that zone. Consider it a form of practicing your sport…because it is. 

Live in the moment

Sports are fast-paced where literally every second can count. They are challenging on nearly every level you can imagine:physical, mental and emotional.

You have to be prepared for the fact that you’ll make mistakes. As soon as those mistakes happen, they are over. Done. Gone. You cannot change them. You have to be in the mindset that you will not allow those errors to effect the rest of your performance and that you will instead focus on how to continue to play to the best of your ability.

Thinking about mistakes you made during the game will hurt your mental focus. It’s great to look at the game tape after and recognize where you can improve, but during the game, focus on the moment that you are in; not the moment that was.