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Clint Dempsey: Mental preparation

How do you prepare yourself mentally for a game?
I try not to worry too much about a game, any stress will hinder your performance. On the morning of a game I will just watch cartoons with my daughter, a bit of Dora The Explorer or Mickey Mouse club. I think the club has a sports psychologist they can put you in touch with, but I don’t really use them, I have my family for things like that.

Are there any mental techniques you use like visualisation?
Sometimes I will think about scoring a goal, but not too much as hoping for things can stress you out. Certainly not early in the week, but maybe on the bus I will put on my music and start visualising the game we are about to play. I like to listen to some rap music to get me in the mood for games, people like Lil Wayne and Slim Thug.

When you wake up on a Saturday morning how do you prepare for a game?
They recommend you have breakfast and lunch, but I prefer to eat lightly, and get as much sleep as possible. I will sleep in to about 10.30am, and then go and get a ham and cheese baguette near where I live in Wimbledon Village. Normally we have to be at the stadium at 1.15pm to review tapes, go over set-pieces, and make sure everyone knows what is expected of them in the game.

What do you like to do just before kick-off?
When I come in from the warm-up and have built up a bit of sweat, I will have a Lucozade and then before I go out for the start of the game I have some water and half an energy bar, and I’m ready to go.

How do you recover from a game?
On the Sunday if we have a midweek game, or on the Monday if we don’t, we will have a rub down, an ice bath and get on the bike to get rid of lactic acid in our legs before another week of training begins.

For more football tips see:
Wayne Rooney: Big match preparation
Theo Walcott: Big match preparation
Gary Neville: Become a master of mentality

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