Putting it all together: The importance of a pre-performance routine

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in Newsletters, Press

Now that you have learned about the basic mental skills that lead to increased mental toughness and confidence it is time to put them to use and create a routine that will help you feel prepared, focused, and confident for your next game or performance. In this newsletter I am going to talk about what pre-performance routines are, why they are important, and how to create your own.

What is a pre-performance routine?

Every athlete wants to play with high confidence. One of the best ways to increase confidence is to be prepared. Having a pre-performance routine helps put an athlete into a mind-set that will help them play to the best of their ability. Being mentally prepared will also help them play more consistently. A pre-performance routine is a set of specific thoughts and actions that are performed before a game or performance. They have been predetermined and can help an athlete to prepare by choosing the most effective and helpful things to do and think before each game that will help lead to consistent playing and increase the likelihood of success; rather than leaving mental preparation to chance. A pre-performance routine can be thought of as a checklist of things that are within an athlete’s control that need to be done before they perform.

Why is it important?

Pre-performance routines are important because they can help athletes focus, be more confident, get in the correct mind-set, feel prepared, engage their mind, and help them feel secure that they can handle any stressful situation that may arise. Pre-performance routines take the guess-work out of preparing for games, help simplify what the athlete needs to do before the game, and help focus the mind on relevant thoughts and feelings and block out everything else.

How to create a pre-performance routine?

One of the first steps in creating your pre-performance routine is discovering what works best for you. Think back to what you did before your best game. Where was your focus? How did your body feel? How was your attitude? How was your confidence? Recognizing these thoughts and actions that helped create success in the past can help you create success in the future and be the foundation for your pre-performance routine. To add to your routine start by thinking what you want to think/feel before your game? Then decide how you are going to get to this mental state. What do you need to do to get to this optimal point both physically and mentally in order to perform your best? Looking at the basic mental skills (relaxation, focus/concentration, imagery, and self-talk) decide which ones help you the most and when you want to use them.

When you are creating a pre-performance routine you want to keep it short, simple, and specific to you and relevant to your upcoming task or game. It is helpful to combine your mental and physical routines. Such as visualizing one of your plays as you lace up your shoes, getting more focused with each piece of equipment you put on, checking in with how you are feeling during warm-ups, and taking deep breathes while stretching. Doing your warm-up with a purpose can help you feel prepared and focused on the upcoming game rather than leaving it to chance and hoping everything goes well. The more you practice your routine the more automatic and helpful it will become.


A pre-performance routine can be very beneficial. It can help an athlete feel more confident, prepared, in control, focused, and engaged. It can help them create the proper mind-set needed to play well and become a more consistent player. Once an athlete has created a pre-performance routine it is important that they practice it constantly, especially during practice so they will feel confident to use it during games. It is also important for athletes to stick to their routine. Small changes or adjustments can be made but an athlete shouldn’t throw away the whole routine based off of one or two bad games. For athletes to perform at their best they need to focus their energy on actions and thoughts that are within their control. Pre-performance routines can help athletes accomplish this and much, much more.