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5 Tips for Dealing with Rushing when Returning to Sport

Author: Hunter Visser, Co-founder of Headstartpro Performance Training


Let’s face it, our lives have been a bit different over the past two months. With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to lift, and sport sitting on the precipice of a restart, we need to restore our skills and habits that help us manage and deal with rushing.

Putting these five tips into action will not only help you strengthen your mental game, but they will also help you stay organized and prevent injuries as you get back into the sports you love.


1.    Organize your pre-performance routine.

We’ve all been there, it’s the morning of tryouts, a big game or competition, and we find ourselves frantically fumbling around, trying to get our gear together and get out the door. Time to put your organization skills to work!

  • Use a checklist to avoid forgetting critical pieces of equipment before leaving the house. Remember to use your checklist to double-check you have everything in the car before leaving the driveway! 
  • Prepare your gear the night before and place it at the door. This makes it almost impossible to forget important items like your helmet, shoes, or gloves. 

When you create a pre-performance routine like always organizing your gear the night before or always using your checklist, you will eliminate a lot of rushing, frustration, and stress on practice, tryouts, or game day.


2.    Analyze close calls and small errors.

By the time we make a significant performance error like missing a shot on an open net, throwing an intercepted pass where the other team scores, or yelling at the referee and getting kicked out of a game, there are usually several small errors that lead up to the major one.

Being able to recognize and learn from the minor mistakes like missing an exit on the way to the game in a rush, missing an easy pass without consequence, or having to run back into the house to grab things you forgot will help you to refocus, re-center, and reconnect before you make a significant error.


3.    Ask yourself, is it worth the risk?

If you find yourself rushing to make it to a practice, game, or competition on time, ask yourself, is the rushing worth the risk?

For instance, speeding in your car or on your bike across town is likely only going to save you 10-60 seconds. If you make an error on the way, like missing an exit on the highway or crashing your car or bike, how much time will you have saved trying to make up just a few seconds? Likely not much, and that’s if the crash isn’t serious! Showing up frustrated or stressed out won’t help your mental game either…

4.    Plan for progression.

All athletes want to get better quickly, but when is it too much?

Teams must have conversations about their current skills and goals for the future. There are often a few smaller skills that need to be learned before you are ready to accomplish a big technical one. And, if you haven’t played in a while you may be rustier than you think…

Sports injuries often happen when athletes skip steps in the progression and try something beyond their current skill level. Take it one step at a time, and remember, if you feel uncomfortable with the speed of progression, talk to your coach or team to come up with a better plan.


5.    Practice Rating Your State.

Rating your state is an excellent way to check in on your physical and mental states, and it applies to more than just rushing. Ask yourself on a scale of 1-10, how rushed am I feeling right now, how fatigued am I, how frustrated am I, and how complacent am I right now?

Rating your state is an excellent way to check in on your physical and mental states, and it applies to more than just rushing. Ask yourself on a scale of 1-10, how rushed am I feeling right now, how fatigued am I, how frustrated am I, and how complacent am I right now?


By putting these five tips into action before your next practice you will prevent performance errors and injuries caused by rushing. They will help you to achieve better results and perform at a higher level.


For more info on Headstartpro, the Critical Error Reduction Techniques, a full list of performance-related habits, and other strategies for combating rushing, check out our online courses for coaches and athletes:

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