Four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel. (ICON Sports)


Welcome back for part two of our series on mental preparation for athletes.

In part one, we discussed the “5 P’s” to getting your mind right before your competition.

To refresh your memory, I’m sharing lessons I got from reading up on the topic.

Let’s finish up with lessons two through six.

Related: How to Gain Confidence in Football


Lesson #2: Don’t Start Visualizing Too Early

In Mentally Preparing For A Game With Dan Abrams, Dan Abrams, a well-known football (soccer) sports psychologist in England is interviewed, and asked to give some tips that will help an athlete mentally get in position for a productive performance.

His first tip, which is to “stop thinking about the game,” caught me off-guard, but it made sense, once I thought it through.

Now I was always under the belief that you want to spend as much time as possible visualizing yourself performing well during the game, and feeling the feelings you’d feel if you were really out on the field making plays.

What I didn’t know before reading this article, was that if you visualize too much before the game or event, you might draining your body of adrenaline and other bodily chemicals that you could use during the actual event.

You see, when you’re visualizing effectively, your body doesn’t know that you’re not physically performing the task in real life.

So to keep from using up these chemicals, Mr. Abrams advises that you hold off from visualizing until two hours before the game or event.

Related: How to Calm Your Nerves and Relax Before a Game


Lesson #3: Ask Yourself a Question.

So what if you waited ’till there’s only two hours left before showtime, and you’re having trouble getting your visualization going?

To remedy this, Mr. Abrams recommended that you ask yourself, “What will it look like today if I play my dream game?”



This question should automatically bring up pictures in your mind that you can use to get started with you visualizations.

In college, I used to have issues, from time to time, when it came to getting started with my visualization sessions before games.

There were so many different situations, plays, and coverage possibilities, that I often had troubles picking which scenarios to visualize.

I can see how asking myself this question, and letting the images come up naturally, would’ve been a great way to overcome that issue.


Lesson #4: Use Your Physical Warm-Up to Warm-Up Your Mind Too!


When you’re going through your physical warm up, use that time to warm up your mind as well.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester. (ICON Sports)

Not sure if you’ve ever noticed, but just as our mindset affects our body, our body affects our minds too.

Believe it or not, you can alter your attitude almost instantly by just adjusting your posture.

The concept is the same here.  When you’re going through warm ups before the event or tryout, make sure you’re moving with the same intensity you expect to exude during the game or event.

Obviously, there are certain movements and things you do during your warm up that are meant to be done slowly and softly.  But if you’re going through position drills before the game (for example), and you’re going through a tackling or blocking drill, block or tackle like you’d tackle in the game.

If you’re practicing for the forty yard dash, and you’re working on your starts at a tryout, blow out of the blocks like you would if you were running it for real.

When you’re do, you’re warming up your mind for optimal performance.


Lesson #5: Focus on Your Strengths.


Lessons five and six both come from Bill Cole, MS, MA, Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association.

As you get closer to the big moment, whether it’s kickoff, or the beginning of a tryout or combine, you want to focus on building confidence.

Thinking about your weaknesses, or how poorly you’ve performed in one aspect or another will only drain your energy and confidence.

Anytime you feel your mind drifting into thinking about your weaknesses, force yourself to start thinking about what you do well.

Focus on your weaknesses during practice, game time is not the time for that.


Lesson #6: Avoid Stressful Situations… and People!


Let’s face it, we all have problems and issues.  But unless it’s an emergency, try to avoid all conflicts and stressful situations in the hours leading up to your big performance or game.

Anything, or anybody, that can potentially cause you stress should be avoided on game day.

So there you have it.  Six tips that can help you get mentally prepared for your games, combines, tryouts, or whatever.

You train your body, don’t forget to train what controls the body, and that’s your mind!

Related: Football and Yoga – Why More and More NFL Players Are Turning to Yoga – Part 1


Hey, you need every edge you can get.

Best of luck.

What’s your pre-game routine?  What kind of music do you listen to before you hit the field?  Leave a comment below!

Follow me on Twitter, at @alvingrier

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Reference web pages:

Sports: 5 Ps for the Big Game

Mentally Preparing For A Game With Dan Abrahams

Psyching Up For Greatness: Powerful Pre-Event Routines

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