Article by: Grace K. and Solenne S.
Edited by: Liz S.
Visual by: Raina H.
Everyone has their own unique way of dealing with stress before high pressure events. Bearcat athletes participating in very competitive conditions have their own pre-game rituals to de-stress and prepare themselves to get in the zone for games. It can range from handshakes, dancing, meditating, and other activities to pump their spirits up and boost their performance. Here are some first season athletes talking about their traditions before a big game.
Before a game starts, pressure always manipulates the brain. Nika says, “the worst pressures I face are my mental endurance game, and the stress of trying to get a strong lead from the start.” To be able to handle these pressures, her team meditates for 5-10 minutes before the game or they try to do stretching to work on their breathing. Aside from this, listening to music always helps ease the nerves. As a team, they try to talk about their goals and what they want to get out of the game and while there are still some things that rattle the nerves, these rituals help to ease them.
Jose is a goalkeeper for the soccer team which comes with a lot of pressure. While football is a team sport and pressure plays upon everyone, Jose says “one of the greatest pressures I face as a goalie is knowing that a mistake I make is a goal for the other team”. Jose has a Spotify playlist that he listens to before a game, and does his traditional moves such as punching the crossbar, shuffling across the goal, and going in for a team talk. To calm down, Jose relies on the practice and training he has had and acknowledges that he will make mistakes and the best thing to do is to move on from them.
Being a new kid in any type of situation is hard and nerve wracking. One of the pressures Joaquin faces is being new to varsity. To de-stress, just like the other athletes, Joaquin listens to music before a game, specifically soundtracks from Haikyuu (a volleyball anime), and before a game, he and his teammates have a meeting in the locker rooms and talk about what they need to focus on in the games. To have a successful game Joaquin says, “you need to put emotions aside and focus on what is going wrong, and look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on the tiny little details.”
According to Chloe, “ a big source of pressure is striving to do better with each race, as cross country is often a competition with yourself and whether or not you can beat your own times.” As well as this, a great deal of pressure comes from wanting to make your teammates and coaches proud. A pregame ritual her team has is warming up together and jogging to be familiar with the route they are about to approach. To stay calm in stressful situations, Chloe tries to stay optimistic as she says “reflecting on all things good” can really improve your mindset.
As stated before, everyone has their own way of facing pressure before stressful events. Each game puts pressure on the players, but in the end the fun and experience is all worth it.