Written by: Mike Shaw
Preparation makes its own luck.
Sounds simple enough, but preparation is key to success. When opportunities present themselves, and things start to go your way (or if they’re not going your way), be ready because you’ve put in effort ahead of time.
Whether it’s a shooting opportunity in the game or you just made the team, what can you do to prepare?
At HeadStartPro, we focus on mental preparation and a set of proprietary critical error reduction techniques, but generally speaking, how you perform depends on how you practice. Setting training goals that line up with your overarching goals is vital for success. Accomplishing bite-sized tasks builds momentum. Heightened self-confidence creates fluidity and flow that is hard to replace with tactics and skills alone. It helps to feel good about how you are playing—which takes effort and personal awareness.
Try asking yourself, Am I working hard enough?
Yea, you work hard, but are you working as hard as you can? Anyone can work hard, but creating a strong work ethic takes consistency and discipline. Motivation alone won’t cut it because it comes and goes. Your effort will waiver unless you have the control to show up every day and put in the reps. The same goes for life, school, and work as it does for your sport. How you ‘show up’ off the court impacts how you act on the court.
How does mental preparation fit into the equation?
Let’s say you’ve worked on your work ethic and you are willing to show up early to practice and stay late, going the extra mile. In the gym, you do extra reps to build your body. Your preparation is as dialed as it’s ever been. So, you show up to the big game, and there’s no more time for reps in the gym or at practice—it’s now or never, and the pressure is on.
How important is your mental game on a scale of 1-10?
10 out of 10.
But on a scale of 1-10, how much do you train your mental game?
If you’re like most people, it’s maybe 1-3 out of 10.
When a big game or competition tests us, our mental game sets us apart from the competition. So, it helps if you are intentional with how you prepare and what you prepare. Performance always falls back on preparation, both physically and mentally.
Most mental preparation takes place off the court.
Just as you condition your body in the gym, you can strengthen your mind by doing repetitions. Practice positive affirmation, and see yourself succeeding in your visualization practice. You can even anticipate mistakes and strategize how you will overcome the curveballs thrown at you.
In HeadStartPro, we talk about practicing self-triggering or working on performance-related habits all the time. Then when you’re playing your sport things happen automatically. In real-time (game time), when split seconds count, you need your mental capabilities to be reflexive and automatic. Make the most out of your chances by working your mind like a muscle so that when the opportunity comes, you’ll be ready.
Practice visualization, practice reps of positive affirmation, and practice self-triggering on your state so it becomes automatic. You can control your mind and control the moment, making the most of the opportunities that come your way.
For more info on HeadStartPro, the Critical Error Reduction Techniques, a full list of performance-related habits, and other strategies for achieving peak performance check out our online courses for coaches and athletes: