Shake off those pre-game nerves

Tune in your brain with this guide to mental preparation from peak performance coach, Tom Bates

PICTURE SUCCESS THE NIGHT BEFORE
By this stage all the hard work has been done so it’s time for you to relax. Get plenty of rest, watch a film or go for a walk to get some fresh air. But before you go to bed spend at least 20 minutes alone visualising the perfect performance in the match tomorrow.
 
START MATCHDAY FEELING FRESH
Start your matchday with an image, picture or statement to reinforce positivity. Say to yourself,  “Today is my day”, “I feel great today”, “Matchday is my favourite day”. If you wake up feeling nervous, ask yourself if you’ve prepared properly. If you have then you’ve done your job; only think about the things you can control.
 
GET ENERGISED AHEAD OF KICK-OFF
Matchday is about keeping energised. On the way to the game play your favourite music, talk about your team’s strengths with your team-mates and focus on things that have gone well in training. Go over your role and responsibilities in the team to build levels of clarity and certainty.
 
TUNE YOUR MIND INTO THE GAME
During the warm-up concentrate on the game and preparing your body for 90 minutes. Focus entirely on being the best you can be in every area of the match. This will eliminate the mind’s tendency to wander or become distracted. 
 
GET IN THE ZONE WITH BREATHING 
The dressing room is the perfect place to get your head in the zone. Controlling your breathing can help you focus. Try to take slow and deep, or shallow and fast breaths. It might sound bizarre, but think about inhaling strength, speed, positivity and power and exhaling stress. Reaffirm your positive thoughts and responsibilities in the team.
 
TEAM HUDDLE, IT’S GAME TIME!
Before kick-off pass the ball around with your team-mates and get a feel for the ball. Go around the team shaking hands, high-fiving and generally encouraging. Through giving positivity, reassurance and support you’ll receive more yourself. Have a team huddle just before kick-off: a fantastic way to reaffirm the team’s strength and solidarity.
 
For more football tips see:
Rooney: Big match preparation
Gary Neville: Become a master of mentality
Michael Ballack: Coping with pressure
Demba Ba's big match preparation
Shake off those pre-game nerves
Theo Walcott: Big match preparation

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