Pre-game Rituals

Locker-RoomOne of the most interesting things I have found about football is that everyone has a pre-game routine. Usually it takes rookies a minute to develop theirs but everyone eventually finds one. You will find people who need to be alone, in a corner, listening to angry and moody music. You will find the people who have a lucky sock or God forbid don’t wash their gloves the entire season. There’s always a couple of people that go through a pregame ritual of dancing. No, not tribal dancing or popping, but some memorable moves nonetheless. Then there are the people that swear they eat only Subway before games or have to dress at the same locker each game or ride with the same people.

Why do we do these things? I definitely have my list:

1.       On game day I prefer NOT to drive the day of the game for away games if I can help it. Sometimes it’s unavoidable but I definitely like it better when I can sleep in and relax.

2.       Usually our games are in the evenings so I like to have large lunch around 11AM-12PM. I can’t just eat Subway because that doesn’t fill me up. I can’t eat too heavy either or I’ll feel sick. So no pasta or heavy carbs. I prefer to have stuff like teriyaki or Chinese food. Something with chicken, rice, and vegetables.

3.       The closer I get to kick off the tighter my stomach gets and the less I can eat. So I always bring either an orange or banana with me to eat in the locker room before the game. It gives me energy from the natural sugar found in the fruit and it is light enough not to mess with me.

4.       I like to get to the game earlier than we are required too. This goes for practices too. I hate hate feeling rushed. There is a lot of stuff to put on for football and I hate having to run around sweating just from having to put all the gear on quickly. I like to get everything on early so I can stay calm and loose.

5.       I usually will also have an energy drink. Yes, it’s not the best thing for you. I used to have 5 hours but I don’t like them anymore. I usually will have a redbull on my way to field. And also Gatorade and water.

6.       I have to stay loose. I’m not the angry in the corner type. That would wind me up too much and I would come out of the gate in the game flat. So I usually will joke with my teammates or just relax.

7.       I have a teammate write a saying on my forearm in sharpie. This has evolved. It started when I was playing for Corvallis and my teammate’s girlfriend’s daughter was sick with cancer and we all put her name on our arms in her honor. It then turned into me writing my mother’s name on my arm when she had an accident in a dune buggy. Then I had tweaked my wrist and would get it taped before the game and write on it a saying I picked out each season. A motivational saying. But the tape would eventually either fall off or the ink would smudge. So I took to having someone write it directly on my arm. After the Boston Marathon attack I wrote Boston on my arm for a couple of weeks. The couple of years I started writing Relentless because I felt it represented my personality and how I approach the game and life itself. It just fits.

8.       Also of note, it never fails that you will get all your gear on for a game and have to use the restroom. It’s like your bladder knows. So then you get to put everything back together again after.

9.       During the national anthem I will typically close my eyes, listen to the song, and pray at the same time. It’s my quiet place before the storm.

I really feel like we approach football games like we approach life. Because of that, everyone has their particular approach depending on their personality type. The game of football is so challenging and physical that you have to mentally prepare for it. So many times in life we encounter mountains that we need to move. What do you do to prepare yourself for it? It could be a new job, a move across country or across the street, marriage, children, or literally a marathon. Sometimes we encounter holes we need to dig out of such as the loss of a job, challenging finances, and relationship issues. All of these situations require you to take a step back and plan your attack.

Regardless of how you get ready for your “game” it’s important to take the time to figure out what works best for you. If you need to run around the house singing Beyonce to get yourself amped for an upcoming job interview, then by all means, do you!


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