Why should we warm-up?  Mental preparation.

Any coach you talk to will tell you that the mental aspect of the game is just as important as the physical aspect.  How we handle the mental aspect of competition is individually based just like the physical aspects, everyone handles stress differently.  If this was not true, everyone could play like some of the soccer greats such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm.  Sorry Coach Mark Howard & Gareth Evans, you didn’t make this list though you are very good 😃

A penalty kick to win the game, stopping a shot which would have won or tied the game for your opponent or performing a move which you have practiced but don’t feel totally confident in are all aspects of the game which can be mentally stressful. 

We don’t often see teams or individuals performing any mental warm-up activities, so when & how do they mentally prepare?  Just like physical practice, coaches will prepare their teams for the mental aspects through drills within drills.  Quietly discussing game situations, yelling & causing distractions during drills, explaining consequences for poor or good performances are all examples of team mental preparation. These practices can help to relieve some of the mental stress felt during competition, when it counts. 

During team warm-up, coaches will remind their team to prepare mentally by concentrating on the drill or picturing themselves performing a skill in a game situation.  Completing the drill correctly and @ the desired speed, concentrating on specific skills, picturing yourself against an opponent are important mental preparation practices.  Just like physical practice & muscle memory, mental preparation will lead to success. 

Everyone mentally prepares differently through quiet meditation, being loud and boisterous and listening to music of many different styles & volumes (and I’ve witnessed it all including opera, country, rap & death metal to name a few).  In any case, individuals should take time to mentally prepare.  As teammates, everyone should respect each other as well.  Though you may not agree with the way a teammate prepares, you need to be cognizant of others, their wishes and your surroundings.