1 GET IN FIRST
Arrive early and make your opponents feel like they are visitors in your territory: take more than half of the space, leave them with the worst part of the changing room, hang up your kit and put on your music. This will all help to create a sense that you own the space.
2 MIX IT UP
Having a laugh amongst yourselves demonstrates togetherness and shows that you aren’t tense or nervous. Then make a noticeable switch to ‘game mode’, where only one person at a time speaks and everyone else listens. This combination shows that you are relaxed but mean business.
More after the break
3 ASSERT YOUR AUTHORITY
If you’ve enjoyed success against this team before, saying things like, “Come on, lads, we’ve beaten this lot before – let’s do it again” will reassert your authority from the previous game. If you haven’t faced them recently, talk positively about maintaining a good run you’re on or how hard you’ve been working in training.
4 MAKE SOME NOISE
Being loud and vocal can unnerve the opposition and cause cortisol to be released into their bloodstreams. A stress hormone, cortisol is released when someone is anxious, doubting or worried, and can suppress their movement, prevent them from performing at their optimum and even cause tunnel vision.
5 DON’T OVERDO IT
The caveat to all of this is that you shouldn’t focus on the opposition too much. Believe that you can execute your skills, irrespective of what your opponents are doing. Don’t focus so much on psyching out the other team that you forget what’s really important – your own tactics and game plan.