Friday the 13th seems like a good day to talk about why superstitions are bad and routines are good. Superstitions are things that you have to do to BELIEVE you will play well. Routines are things that you do to ensure you are best PREPARED to play well. In my playing experiences, I have had both.
My superstition was that I had to wash and polish my boots the night before a game. When I didn’t, I didn’t believe that I could play well and I would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I knew that I needed to change when due to travel requirements, I would never be able to wash/polish my boots before playing for the Adelaide Black Falcons. If I didn’t throw away my superstition then I would never have been able to play well for a representative (All-Star) side. I adjusted and made the change, I knew that no matter what happened before a game I needed to be able to put that out of my head and played what was in front of me.
My routine was that I needed to set goals for each game. This helped me focus mentally and be prepared for the upcoming match. I didn’t need a lot of time and I could write it down or just complete it in my head. If I didn’t have time to do it, I would use the team directives as my goals. This helped me avoid feeling under prepared if I didn’t complete my routine. I didn’t need my routine if something got in the way on the day, but it helped me focus and be the most prepared I could be.
The goal is to create routines that help you prepare for a game, but that you don’t need to rely on to be able to play well. If you find yourself needing to do something before you play, work to eliminate that crutch and get on with trusting in your training and instincts to make an impact week in and week out.