Create your Pre-Performance Routine
Have you ever watched Wales kicker Dan Biggar do his little dance before he fires the ball in between the posts? Or have you noticed how Rafael Nadal likes to touch the front and back of his sports, his shoulders, his nose and ears, in a specific order? Maybe you like to bounce the ball twice before taking a shot? These are all variants of pre-performance routines.
A closed skill like a penalty kick, a golf swing, or a basketball free throw are great opportunities to incorporate a routine into your performance
However, there is a difference between a superstition and a routine. For example, if you feel you need to wear your lucky red underpants or black socks to win a match, chances are that’s not a psychological skill being deployed, but a belief that you hold but it has no basis in fact.
A pre-performance routine is a sequence of thoughts and actions relevant to the task in hand. It is systematic and specific to a particular skill. Research shows that those who use a consistent set of behaviours can enhance performance, while those who deviate from their routines are less accurate. Routines aren’t static. Over time, as you improve, you may need to make little changes.
A good routine includes three factors; thoughts, actions and the task at hand.
Make sure to use the same number of actions or steps before you execute your skill. Your thoughts, as always are your greatest asset, so long as they are useful. Keep your thoughts relevant, positive and to the point. Maybe tell yourself how you are going to feel, for example ‘relax’ as you exhale.
· Your routine is unique to you, and it make take you some time to establish one.
· As you improve in your sport, your routine will also develop.
· Don’t worry about how long your routine is, unless of course, rules specify that you have to execute your skill within a specific timeframe.
· Consistency is key, so avoid deviating from your routine. If this happens, stop and start again.
A good way to get started is to write down a list of task requirements and your desired outcomes. Then write down your current routine and see if they matchup. If they do, great, if not you may need to do a little bit of homework on it. Good luck!