Every time I step out onto the pitch I like to be prepared. During the Rugby season, I draw on previous experiences to help prepare mentally for the game. The move to Denver has changed this, I have no prior experiences and it has been hard to be mentally prepared for the games. My wife, Julie, mentioned that I looked jittery at the start of last night’s game and I was. So this is the plan that I have come up with.
The first step is to draw on my previous personal experiences. Instead of focusing on how the opposition play, I am going to focus on the things that I do well. For me, that is scrummaging, tackling, clearing out/rucking and communicating effectively. I am going to use these experiences to develop a series of mental images that will help build my self-confidence in my ability to execute against any opposition. This will help me face the unknown by relying on my strengths to overcome.
The second step to set goals based on my teams game plan. This will allow to work within our pattern and do the basics well. If I make a contribution to my teams game plan then I am doing my part to achieve our goals. With my coaches knowing the opposition, I can place confidence that what I am doing will help my team achieve their desired result. An example was last night that I was going work to support the the ball runner coming flowing around on a forward hitup during the second phase 80% of the time. I knew that if I did that it would help release our backs and once again it was something that I could control and contribute to.
The third step is to manage my arousal levels. Before a game, I can get too pumped up or be a in a lull. Yesterday, I was buzzing and the week before I was in a lull. I did a good job getting out of my lull by listening to music and talking with teammates. However, I yesterday I didn’t do a good job of calming my nerves. I forgot to do breathing exercises and instead just bounced around and lost focus. My favorite breathing exercise is to sit and count my inhalations and exhalations. I say “1” on the inhale and “2” on the exhale. Then I focus on simply my lungs filling then expelling air.
I am going to implement this plan before my next game and I will let you know how it goes. I hope to be mentally stronger and more self-reliant when preparing for unknown situations.