Athletes notice a trend when they first enter sports: they are unstoppable in practice, but during a game, they’re unnoticeable. Skills don’t diminish from practice the day before to the next day when it’s game time.
The problem is that practice “doesn’t count.”
When a player arrives at practice, they’re able to focus and relax. The game comes easily during practice because there’s a lot less pressure during practice. When an athlete is put into a game, it’s easy to be:
- Flooded with emotion
It’s a person’s mindset that frequently leads to great players in practice losing their groove in competition. Why? Games “really count,” while practice “doesn’t count.” It’s the fear and anxiety of the game actually mattering that keeps players from being able to let go and do what’s natural during the game.
The player overthinks, they try to be perfect, and it ends in failure. Even the greatest stars in sports have these moments where they seemingly lose their game. Stars that are traded to big cities often fail to meet their potential and their game diminishes because the pressure is too much to handle.
Overcoming Game Time Adversity
Game time is all about focus and overcoming adversity. It’s time to focus and get into the zone. Coaches across the world explain to their players that game time is about reacting and using what you’ve learned in practice.
Worrying and overthinking have led to professional athletes looking like amateurs.
The goal is simple:
- Focus on the game
- Stop worrying about what can go wrong
If you’re sitting there scared that you’re going to make a mistake or are overthinking the play, you’re going to fall into a rut where everything seems to be going wrong.
The physical approach to a game is only 50% of what matters – the other 50% is all mental.
Focusing on the next play allows you to stay relaxed and loose. You’ll be able to reach peak performance when you’re able to focus. It’s this laser-focus that can change certain players into superstars when they enter a championship game.
If you’re having trouble bringing your “A” game from practice to the field, you need to reevaluate where your focus was during the game. For example, if you had a bad game last night, sit down and try to think where your focus was during the game.
Were you focused on the game? Did one mistake consume your thoughts? Did you worry about home life?
If you look at your best performance, you likely had fun and were able to put all of your attention and focus into the game. A lot of players have a pregame routine that allows them to get into the zone.
Try and find your routine that allows you to focus on the game and not every wrong move you make. A game is a series of actions – some right and some wrong – that determine the outcome of the game. Focus on what you’re doing right, stay positive and focus on the next play – not past mistakes. Trust yourself and the work that you’ve put into practice. You’re ready for the big game. You’ve rehearsed it in practice already.