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The Importance of Routines for an Athlete

“You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

John C. Maxwell

Consistent Routines leads to consistent performance

Routines are quite possibly the most important part of sports that athletes can create to improve their preparation and mindset. The major worth in routines is that they guarantee complete planning in athletes' endeavors. Routines empower athletes to be totally strategically, and intellectually prepared to play at their best. I don't know any elite athletes in any sport who doesn't utilize routines in some piece of their competitive lifestyle.

Routines are frequently utilized before competition to ensure that athletes are set up to play at their best. They can likewise be significant in two different areas. Routines can be created in preparing to guarantee that athletes benefit from their training time. Routines are likewise significant between performances of competition to assist athletes with preparing for resulting performances

There are a great deal of things in sport that athletes can't handle like climate conditions and their competition. The only thing they can control is themselves. Game schedules can change on command, playing surfaces and fields may be adjusted last minute, especially in tournaments. Therefore athletes need to ask themselves (is my equipment in ideal condition?), (is my body genuinely warmed up and loose?), and (is my mind at prime concentration and focus?).

Routines additionally permit athletes to make their expectations more unsurprising by realizing they're deliberately covering each area that could arise and impact execution. Athletes can likewise expect the unforeseen. All in all, they can get ready for each inevitability that could emerge during a contest. On the off chance that athletes can decrease the things that can turn out badly and be ready for those things that do, they'll be better ready to be kept on track and stay relaxed in tight competition.

Routines vs. Rituals

"Some sport psychologists use the term "ritual" in place of routine. I don’t like this term because it has connotations that go against what routines are trying to accomplish. Remember, the goal of routines is to totally prepare athletes for training or competition. Everything done in a routine serves a specific and practical function in that readiness process. For example, a physical and technical warm-up and a review of tactics for an upcoming competition are all essential for total preparation."

"In contrast, a ritual is associated with superstitions and is often made up of things that have no practical impact on performance, for instance, wearing lucky socks or following a specific route to the competition site. Routines can also be adjusted should the need arise; for example, if you arrive late to the competition, you can shorten your routine and still get prepared. Rituals, though, are rigid and ceremonial. Athletes can believe that rituals must be done or they will not perform well. You control routines, but rituals control you." - Jim Taylor Ph.D, Psychology Today

Dr. Jim Taylor explains the psychological approach to creating an effective routine.

Training Routines

Developing sport routines should begin in practice. For you to get the most out of your training, you should develop a brief training routine that will ensure that you’re totally prepared for every drill. The first step in your training routine is getting your body ready. This involves checking and adjusting your intensity as needed. This might mean taking deep breaths to calm yourself down or using intense breaths to raise your intensity. I recommend that before every drill you get your body going in preparation for the start of the drill.

Second, you need to focus on what you want to work on in the drill. If you have an internal focus style, you should already be narrowly focused on a particular cue. If you have an external focus style, this would be the time to narrow your focus onto the cue. To narrow your focus, you can remind yourself what the purpose is of the drill. Then, you can repeat your keyword.

Your training routine need only last a few seconds, but will completely prepare you to get the most out of your training. It will also lay the foundation for using sport routines before and during competitions. Remember, for your training routine to become effective, you must use it every time you begin a drill.

Pre-Competitive Routines

The next step in developing effective sport routines is to create a pre-competitive routine that is an extended version of the training routine. The goal is the same, to be totally prepared to perform your best. The difference is that a pre-competitive routine will dictate how you perform in your upcoming competition and it can take up to several hours to complete.

There is no one ideal routine for everyone. Pre-competitive routines are individual. For every great athlete, you’ll see a different routine, but all will have common elements. You have to decide what exactly to put into your routine and how to structure it. Developing an effective pre-competitive routine is a progressive process that will take time before you have one that really works for you.

Focus and intensity are two areas that you must consider in developing your pre-competitive routine. You should know whether you have an internal or external focus style and you know what level of intensity at which you perform best. With that in mind, you want to plan your pre-competitive routine so that when you begin a competition, you have prime focus and intensity.

Focus needs

The goal in your pre-competitive routine if you have an internal focus style is to put yourself in a place where there are few external distractions and where you can focus on your pre-competitive preparation. To maintain that narrow focus, you want to go through your pre-competitive routine away from other people and activities that could distract you.

An external focus style means that you need to keep your focus wide during your preparations so you can keep your mind off the upcoming competition and away from thinking too much. The goal in your pre-competitive routine if you have an external focus style is to put yourself in a place where you’re unable to become focused internally and think about the competition. Your pre-competitive routine should be done where there is enough activity to draw your focus away from inside your head. To widen your focus, you want to go through your pre-competitive routine around people and activities that can draw your focus outward.

Intensity needs

You’ll also want to build your pre-competitive routine around your intensity needs. The intensity component of your pre-competitive routine should include checking your intensity periodically before the approaching competition and using psych-up or psych-down techniques to adjust it as needed. You’ll need to set aside time in your routine when you can do these techniques. As you approach the competition, you’ll want to move closer to your prime intensity. The short period just before the competition should be devoted to a final check and adjustment of your intensity.

If you perform best at a lower level of intensity, you want your pre-competitive routine to be done at an easy pace and have plenty of opportunities take a break to slow down and relax. You’ll want to be around people who are relaxed and low-key as well. If you’re around anxious people, they’ll make you nervous too.

If you perform best at a higher level of intensity, you want your pre-competitive routine to be done at a faster pace with more energy put into the components of your routine. You will want to make sure that you are constantly doing something. There should be little time during which you are just standing around and waiting. You’ll also want to be around people who are energetic and outgoing.

Designing a pre-competitive routine

The first step in designing a pre-competitive routine is to make a list of everything you need to do before a competition to be prepared. Some of the common elements you should include are meals, review of competitive tactics, physical warm-up, technical warm-up, equipment check, and mental preparation. Other more personal things that might go into a pre-competitive routine include going to the bathroom, changing into your competition clothing, and using mental imagery.

Then, decide in what order you want to do the components of your list as you approach the start of the competition. In doing this, consider competition activities that might need to be taken into account. For instance, availability of a warm-up area or a place where you can eat your pre-competitive meal can influence when you accomplish different parts of your pre-competitive routine.

Next, specify where each step of your routine can best be completed. You should use your knowledge of competitive sites at which you often perform to figure this part out. For example, if you like to be alone before a competition, is there a quiet place you can get away from people?

Finally, establish a time frame and a schedule for completing your routine. In other words, how much time do you need to get totally prepared? Some athletes like to get to the competition site only a short time before they begin. Others like to arrive hours before. All of these decisions are personal. You need to find out what works best for you.

Once your pre-competitive routine is organized, try it out at competitions. Some things may work and others may not. In time, you’ll be able to fine-tune your routine until you find the one that’s most comfortable and best prepares you for competition. Lastly, remember, pre-competitive routines only have value if they’re used consistently. If you use your routine before every competition, in a short time, you won’t even have to think about doing it. Your pre-competitive routine will simply be what you do before each competition and it will ensure that you are totally prepared to perform your best and achieve Prime Sport.

Routines are the foundation of any successful athlete or any person nonetheless. Having consistency in actions and thought patterns will set us up for consistency in performance. When unexpected things come our way, having a routine allows for smarter adjustments and smoother transitions from one task to the next. A key reason for a routine is not just efficiency but mental stability. When we have control of what we can control, the mind keeps focus on those aspects, and doesn't get overwhelmed by the next task at hand.

Maintaining positive psyche and optimal fitness levels are all apart of staying balanced and efficient in your routine. Focus on what you can control, and prepare for success, because failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.

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