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Mental Game

From: Austin Uhler <amu300@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 11:16 PM
Subject: [georgetownultimate] Zip's tip # 101 (the last one - mental game)
To: georgetownultimate <georgetownultimate@yahoogroups.com>

mental game [from Paul Greff]

The physical preparation is over. Other than eating and sleeping well, you're not going to improve your physical status. Now's the time to work on your mental game. The mental preparation during the 10 days prior to nationals sectionals is, in my opinion, just as important as the previous 10 weeks' physical preparation. If you care, I'll share my pre-nationals sectionals "mental workout" with you before age takes it's toll on my memory and I'm content to pick lint from my navel. 

1. Take a physical inventory. Are you in the shape that you wanted to be in at this time? If not, then figure out a strategy for maximizing your output over the 3 day tourney and make peace with yourself. Whining to yourself (and heaven forbid, to your teammates) b/c you're not in shape is an awful distraction. You cannot have any mental distractions at this tournament. Pure focus. If you have an injury, then figure out a game plan to avoid aggravating it BEFORE you get to Austin. I can't offer much more help with injuries. I played over them. Learn how. If you're content with your level of conditioning then polish that porksword and get ready to do some damage. 

2. Take a skill inventory. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? Define ways to exploit your strengths and simply leave your weaknesses behind. If you don't have a particular throw, don't use it. Someone else on the team has that throw. I guarantee it. One of my weaknesses was always breaking the mark. I found it helpful to identify certain game situations where it would be important for me to force that throw and in all others I would probably fake the throw and try to go to the strong side. Again, this exercise reduced the number of mental distractions and removed the guesswork while in the heat of battle. 

3. Set personal goals. This is purely subjective but it's important to set personal goals to help you stay focused every game. My goals remained fixed over 20+ years: no drops, no throwaways. I know they weren't realistic over the course of the tournament (although no drop tourneys weren't uncommon) but I set out to accomplish those goals every half of every game. It gave me a sense of accomplishment during the game and strengthened my confidence. Other goals included shutting a particular opponent down, never being beat deep in the zone, etc. When the tourney is over you'll be able to look back and evaluate your own performance b/c in the end the only person you need to impress is yourself. 

4. Visualize greatness. This exercise yields the most benefits. But it is also the most difficult to perform correctly. Visualizing greatness does not mean picturing which clothes would look best while standing on the victory podium. It has two levels. The first is to visualize yourself executing the team's playbook in various roles. For example, on defense I would picture myself playing different positions within the zone moving as one with the rest of the team while the opponent moved the disc around the field. Kind of like those skiers who picture the course before the race. The second level is all about Glory. See yourself shutting the best player down, staying with him cut after cut after cut until his teammates stop looking in his direction or until he puts his hands on his knees to catch his breath. See yourself getting open at will and delivering every pass on the mark. Imagine it's game point and you're down two goals at the cap. One of your teammates lays out for a diving D and we score. You can feel the opponent tighten up. We come down hard on the pull and they have to work for every inch of soil. Another teammate gets a D and we score. There is fear in their eyes and nothing but hunger in ours. Now it's your turn. You shut your man down the entire length of the field and then you set him up. You let him and the thrower think he's got a step on you and as the disc is released you burst forward, leave your feet and watch your hand sneak in front of his to snatch the disc away. No time for Glory yet. You stand up, take one deep breath to collect yourself and then you're an offensive machine. Untiring and unstoppable. You help work the disc down the field until you throw or catch the final goal. Game, set, match, Glory. The championship has been won and you contributed directly. 

This is the sort of stuff I still fall asleep dreaming about. If you visualize these things, you'll believe in yourself when it counts, you won't be nervous and you'll want to make the big plays. You'll want to be called in to receive the disc for the final point of the tournament. You will have hunger, not fear. Champions attack - they never protect. If you do this, I guarantee at some point you will be the difference. 

Leave it all in Austin St. Mary’s City - except the cup.