It is that exciting time of year again for those involved in winter sports, finals time! As we get to the end of the regular season those in the top spots of the ladder are starting to prepare for finals. Finals time is always special. It is different to the regular season. The intensity increases as does the emotion surrounding the games. All of these factors and more can affect decision making both on and off the field at this time of year.
Whilst it is tempting to up your training load to prepare for finals it is important to remember less is more. Finals is not the time to start a new fitness program or up your number of trainings per week. This preparation has already (or should have) been done in the pre-season and regular season. Suddenly increasing your amount of training and exercise puts you at risk of overloading your body resulting in injury. Continue with your usual training plan, whatever that is during the season. You can even taper it towards the end of the finals if that works well for you. But doing a couple of extra sessions before the big game is not going to be as helpful as you would like it to be.
Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. As the finals commence concentrate on the present. Not what happened last week or what might occur next week? Think about yourself as an individual and as part of the team. Focus on your role and responsibilities. Don’t worry about how your team mates are playing or what coach is thinking. Don’t compare yourself to others. There are going to be many things outside of your control. These include but are not limited to the crowd, officials, other team and even the weather. Don’t waste your mental energy thinking about these things. They are what they are. How you perform in response to them is up to you.
Whilst is important to get your head in the game, you don’t want to over think it. Distraction before and after games will help keep you mentally sharp. Ideas include listening to music, playing with a pet or even having a chat to someone about something other than sport.
And the most important thing of all? To have fun. Sometimes finals (especially grand finals) are a once in a lifetime thing. Enjoy all of the great moments associated with it.