How to Mentally Prepare During a Break in Games
TBD… “To be determined” describes the waiting process after your team has advanced in a tournament and you are waiting for your opponent to be determined.
The waiting process can have a mental effect on a team. This waiting process can be riddled with anxiety for several reasons:
- You have no idea what team you will face next. The unknown often leads to anxiety. Two different teams will most likely have completely different styles and completely different players with unique skill sets and tendencies, so it is difficult to game-plan for your next match up.
- Scrimmages in practice can’t completely replicate the intensity of a competitive game.
- There is the rust factor. The longer you have to wait for a game, the more “rusty” you may feel entering the game. Your opponent is riding the high coming off of a victory and your wait may cause you to feel sluggish and take you a longer time to get into the flow of the game. Also, you may not feel as sharp during the game which can put your team at a huge disadvantage.
As you can see, waiting for you next opponent can create a mental challenge filled with anxiety.
The Boston Bruins had to wait five days to see who they would be facing in the Stanley Cup. The Bruins won their Conference Final on May 16th while the St. Louis Blues didn’t secure their spot in the Championship series until May 21st.
In addition, the Bruins needed to wait an additional six days before playing in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals which started on May 27th.
During those eleven days of waiting and wondering, the Bruins spent their time recovering, resting, practicing, scrimmaging and preparing for the biggest games of the season.
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy stated the team focused on keeping it simple to counter the possible negative effects of the layoff and minimize anxiety that might accompany the waiting process.
McAVOY: “Hopefully we can come out and we can play our game right from the start, whatever rustiness or maybe perhaps getting your legs under you or whatever it may be, hopefully we can shake that out as quick as possible and just get down to playing our game. I think playing a simplistic game to start is going to be the key to that.”
Bruins forward Charlie Coyle talked about how the Bruins approached their layoff with a positive perspective creating a sense of excitement rather than anxiety.
COYLE: “It’s been a long stretch of not playing games. We’re just itching to get there. But we’ve just used the time to our advantage, stay positive and stay upbeat. Once the time comes, we’ll be ready.”
The most effective approach to dealing with the waiting process and minimizing anxiety comes from maintaining day-to-day routines, consistent preparation, focusing on your game, keeping things simple and approaching the next game with a sense of excitement.
With this type of mental preparation, you are better suited to get right into the game soon after the puck drops to start the next game.
Dealing with a Long Layoff between Games:
Maintain the same consistent, daily routine as you had throughout the season. You don’t need to “cram for the test” or do nothing between games.
Consistent routines help you minimize anxiety by staying focused in the present rather than having your mind jump to a game in the future.
Stay mentally sharp by using mental rehearsal to see you playing well in the next game. Be proactive with your confidence and ready to take on any opponent.
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