Control the controllable. When I first heard this I phrase I was playing for the Adelaide Black Falcons and my coach, Steve Boyd, exhorted the squad to concentrate on training hard and developing as a team. It is probably the most important phrase in my entire rugby career. I can only worry about what I can control. So what can I control?
I can control my preparation. This includes physical and mental preparation. My physical is to train throughout the season. Keep on top of my cardiovascular conditioning and my strength work. The mental comes in two parts. The first is knowing the game plan. I know the pattern we are going to play and how we, as a team, are going to combat the opposition. The second is personal psychological preparation. Do I know my key phrases to build confidence through self-talk? Am I prepared to deal with adversity on the field? My key phrase to build confidence is “Mav’s challenge” and my phrase to deal with adversity is “Next Job.” I use these phrases because they jog vivid memories of previous performances where I have played well and succeeded.
What I can’t control? The referee, the weather, how much warmup time I have, the hotel room before a game…all these things could cause me to play a bad game. They require you to adapt to different stimulus and still produce great results. With things like the ref and the weather, you adjust your game to match the conditions. You can do this if you have done your preparation. With things like warmup time and hotel rooms, you ignore these distractions and focus on the match.
Good luck with play-offs if you are in the USA. This is your opportunity to go out and play your best rugby by concentrating on what you can control.