Pre-Game Preparation Routines by Elite Athletes

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A pre-game preparation routine can be defined as a sequence of task-relevant actions and thoughts that athletes engage in systematically just before their performances. According to this definition, a routine needs to be systematic, task-specific and engaged with for it to control over your performance. Optimal performance is all about consistency. Routines are undoubtedly important aspects of sports that all elite athletes need to nurture to enhance their training and competitive performances. There are several things in sports that you can’t control. Such things include your opponents, referees or weather conditions. What you can control, however, is yourself. The fundamental value of pre-game preparation routines is that they guarantee positive results in athletes’ efforts. As an athlete, you can incorporate routines in training to get the most out of your practice time.

Why Elite Athletes Use Routines

According to studies, elite athletes that use pre-game preparation routines have enhanced performance. Routines enable you to prepare all areas that impact your sport directly. They empower elite athletes to be mentally, physically, tactically and technically fit to perform their best. A routine creates a mindset that allows you to perform to your talents and capabilities consistently. Many athletes love to prepare themselves for what is to come. By having a constant routine, you eliminate the surprise factor. Sharpening your focus helps you to develop a strong visualization of the field around you. If you can reduce the things that could go wrong during a competition, you’ll be able to stay relaxed and focused on winning. Getting in the zone’ allows you to bounce back from failure, adversity and stress. It is worth mentioning that some sports are comprised of short performances. Routines between performances of athletic competitions are also vital to help the athletes be prepared for subsequent performances.

Consistent Pre-game Routines Lead to Consistent Results

Pre-game routines only have value when used consistently. Every athlete is different, and you need to create a pre-game routine that suits your personality. The first step to crafting a pre-game routine is making a list of everything you need to do before a competition to be well-prepared. Common elements to include in such a routine include mental preparations, meals, warming up, equipment check and review of competitive tactics. Some athletes might prefer some quiet alone time before the game while others might need to bump to some hardcore rap music. Both of them are trying to achieve the same thing – be confident and focused, and feel good before the competition.

We have prepared a list of 9 pre game preparation routines by elite athletes to help you get started.

  1. Create a pre-game music playlist – it is vital to create a pre-game playlist to listen to during training or when you are getting ready to compete. Music will help you to tune out distractions on the field.
  2. Have good night sleep – ensure you get enough sleep on the night before your big day. Sufficient sleep is vital to athletic performance. You can promote sleeping early by shutting down electronics like TV and smartphones or taking a relaxing shower.
  3. Pre-game meal – no one knows you better than yourself. It is advisable to eat at least 2 hours before a competition. Avoid eating a heavy meal or consuming caffeine right before the competition.
  4. Check your equipment to check whether everything is okay – you have probably witnessed cases where athletes lose races due to failing to check their gear to confirm if everything works perfectly. Don’t make the same mistake.
  5. Warming up – right before you compete, take a deep breath, do some light warm up exercises and visualize yourself successfully executing your game plan.
  6. Prepare yourself mentally by getting rid of negative thoughts and filling your mind with positive affirmations. Self-confidence is critical in athletics. If you possess a high level of belief in yourself, you will not experience anxiety.
  7. Anticipate and plan for distractions – expecting potential distractions during a competition is an important part of the pre-game routine. There is great power in having anticipated something before it happens.
  8. Getting familiar with the surroundings – as an athlete, you should purpose to familiarize yourself with the surroundings of the competition and everything else that is important to you.
  9. Invest in a good set of supplements that can be used to enhance athletic performance!

Routines vs. Rituals

There is a big difference between rituals and routine. Unfortunately, some sports websites use the term ritual in place of routine. As we have mentioned above, the goal of pre-game preparation routines is to help athletes be well-prepared for competitions. All actions performed in a routine serve a precise and practical function in that game preparation process.

On the other hand, rituals are associated with superstitions. They consist of actions that bear no practical impact on performance. Examples of rituals include sleeping in a certain position the night before the competition or putting on lucky charms. There are many elite athletes who believe that in order to perform well in competitions, rituals must be done. In a nutshell, you control pre-game preparations, but rituals control you. This, however, doesn’t mean that rituals are not important. You can turn your ritual into a routine. Rituals can help you calm down your nerves and help you to perform better ultimately. The good thing about a ritual is that you can do it anywhere, anytime.

Reasons why a pre-game preparation routine is imperative in athletic performance:

  • It centers and calms the mind and body -athletic competitions are characterized by pressure moments. Having a pre-game preparation routine helps to get rid of the tension by bringing you back to something comfortable. By undergoing the same routine at every competition, you get a much-needed distraction from any pressure you may be feeling. This way, you can execute your skills better.
  • It gives you a way to gain control in severe situations – in sports, things can go south real quick. When you have a routine, you achieve added control and focus your energy on performing well in whatever situation you find yourself in. You can plan for any eventuality that could come up during competition. Put simply, a routine trains you to expect the unexpected.
  • It trains your body what to expect and what is expected – a routine allows you to make your preparation more predictable. When you perform the same routine for every pre-game practice, you train your body for what is coming. By covering all areas likely to influence your performance, you prepare yourself better to do your level best.


Athletes are always looking for strategies to improve their on-field performance. Focus is a vital part if you want to succeed in sports. By focusing on both mental and physical preparedness using pre-game preparation routines, you will achieve peak performance. A pre-game routine is one way to improve athletic focus. Once your pre-game routine is organized, practice it at competitions. The list of pre game preparation routines by elite athletes above will help to build confidence that you can properly pull off without fail.

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