Do you need a race day routine?

Having a routine including mental preparation helps you to be organized and systematic before a race and or training session. It helps you get ‘in the zone’.

Most athletes have a standard warm-up they go through before competing that typically includes stretching, running, drills, and or tactical practice. Athletes individualize their warm up to optimally prepare their body to perform at its best. They do what is best for them and not necessarily what their teammates or training partners are doing.

A similar approach is taken with mental preparation. Elite athletes are aware of their thoughts and emotions and use strategies to manage these as necessary. Elite athletes prepare their mind at the same time that they prepare their body.

When you can see and feel past and future successes as part of your mental preparation, you feel more in control and confident. Imaging a successful upcoming performance is the “dress rehearsal” for the real deal.

It is important to manage your activation levels so that you are not too flat or too “wound up”. During preparation, you can listen to certain music to get energized or use deep breathing to slow your thoughts and decrease your activation.

Technical cues (short strokes off the start or into and out of the first buoy turn) can be integrated into your preparation to direct your attention towards the things you can control.

Mental preparation can help you feel in control in the moments leading up to the competition. It helps you get ready mentally so that you can focus on relevant areas for performance rather than your own thoughts or feelings.

 Creating your own routine.

The first step is to determine what mindset allows you to perform at your best. You can work this out by reflecting on your best and worst performances in the past.

The second step is to decide what physical and mental strategies will help you to be physically and mentally ready on race day.

The third step is to design a routine that incorporates your physical and mental strategies. This routine may start the night before the competition and continue until the end of competition day.

Last step is to practice this routine during training so that come race day, any difficulties such as equipment failure, tough environmental considerations, or last minute rules changes will have less chance of affecting your race day outcome.

Have fun. YOLO