This weekend I fortunate enough to participate in the USA Division 1 National Championships. My club, Glendale RFC, went in as the defending national champions. We won the semi against Palmer Chiropractic, but lost the final against Belmont Shore. With two games in two days, the rugby was tough on the body, but even tougher on the mind. I was happy with my play in both games, but my approach was completely different mentally and I needed to adapt my pre-game to my different mental states.
On Saturday against Palmer, I was very calm. The game was at 6:40pm and I ate a full meal because I was hungry. When I arrived I stayed calm by listening to music and I even fell asleep in the team room before the meeting. After the team meeting I wrote my goals for the day along with positive affirmations about my abilities and started to hype myself up before the game. I knew that I needed to pick up my energy without going over the top. I listened to my body and mind. I talked excitedly with my teammates about the game plan, visualized doing well on the field and listened to upbeat music.
On Sunday against Belmont Shore, I was very nervous. I was overhyped and I couldn’t relax. I felt full all day and my gut was a bundle of nerves. I ate half a meal because I felt full and I used relaxation exercises to calm my mind. I didn’t think about the game, but instead thought about my family, listened to happy go lucky music and preferred to keep my own company over talking to teammates. After the team meeting, I wrote my goals, positive affirmations and comments that nerves were a good sign because they showed that I was ready. From the meeting until the warm-up, I turned on happy music and kept myself from getting overhyped. I listened to my mind and body, which told me a very different story from the day before. I focused on controlling my emotions and spoke quietly and purposefully with teammates about specific instances on the field.
In both situations, I hit the ground running and ready to compete. The differences in physical and mental approaches before the game was something that positively affected my ability to compete. In the past, I have tried to force a specific feeling and sometimes I have failed to play well. This weekend I accepted that on any given match day I could feel a different way, the key to playing well was accepting how I felt and adapting to it. Listen to your body, react and adapt to what your body needs at that point in time.