It is only a few hours until kick-off at Super Bowl XLVII. I have spent the weekend at the Institute for Rowing Leadership’s What Works Summit swapping ideas on the conference’s theme, “Championship Performance.” Tomorrow night the Beanpot, Boston’s favorite college hockey tournament, kicks off. It seems like a good time to share a few ideas on the mental and emotional side of “big” game day.
While few will have the opportunity to strap on a helmet for the Super Bowl, line up at the start of an Olympic regatta, or walk down the hall of the Garden wearing skates ready to face competition from one of Boston’s best hockey playing schools – many fitness buffs have their own championship games… events or activities for which they have spent many months preparing. Many hours have been spent training and dreaming of “game day.” When it arrives, how do we make the most of it?
Embrace It – So much time is spent talking about reducing or smothering game day emotions… yet they should not be avoided. The big event has arrived, take a moment to smile and soak it all in. The emotions of game day are the reward for hours in the gym. Embraced emotions fuel great performances and lead to confident play.
Settle In – The marvel of game day is good, unregulated energy levels are not. The buzzing of all the people involved in big events and the hype of the event’s “importance” leads hearts to race, muscles to tense, and balance to wane. While reveling in it all, breathe, drop your shoulders, and take a moment to feel your weight settle into the ground.
Play the Game – Play the game you have prepared for as opposed to battling the hype, the score, or the crowd. All National Football League fields are 120 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide. There are four quarters in a football game. Touchdowns are worth 6 points, field goals are worth 3 points, and a few other points can be tacked on here and there throughout a game. None of this will change on Super Bowl Sunday. It is two football teams lined up to play a game that is physically similar to all other NFL games. The unwise competitor will forget how much fun the game is and decide to criticize plays like a fan and follow the scoreboard like a statistician. Do the fun stuff… focus on and play “the game.”
What will be your championship performance, game day this year? Do you have a mental game plan for it?
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.