Optimal performance is all about consistency. Coaches and athletes know that repetitions build strength. That’s why you train. However, the same principles apply to getting an athlete’s mind and body ready to perform on demand. It is no accident that elite athletes rely on battle-tested pre-performance routines to prime their performance.
An NBA Great’s Secret to Success
Steve Nash played almost 20 years in the NBA. He was a two time league MVP and eight time NBA All-Star. Nash has the most seasons in the 50-40-90 club (at or above 50% field goals, 40% three-pointers, and 90% free throws) in NBA history. Most analysts agree that he will be a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2020.
Nash also has the highest free throw percentage in NBA history, averaging over 90%.
So how’d he do it? He explains in this short video:
- 1-2 Shot Rehearsals
- Dribble the ball 3 times
- Take a deep breath
- Shoot the ball
Its simple, consistent, and clearly effective.
3 Cs Athletes Get from Pre-Performance Routines
Pre-performance routines are simply an intentional set of steps athletes progress through to ensure their minds and bodies are ready to perform their best.
The most effective routines combine mental and physical strategies to get an athlete primed, focused, and ready to seize the moment.
- pre-shot (free throw or tee shot)
- pre-kick (penalty kick or field goal)
- pre-snap (quarterback reads or defensive back getting locked in on his receiver)
- pre-pitch (in the batters box, on the mound, or playing any position)
However, a pre-performance routine can also apply to what athletes do to prepare their minds and bodies right before the competition begins.
Every athlete can elevate his or her performance by leveraging these 3 benefits of creating a pre-performance routine.
In sports there is a lot outside the athlete’s control. Opponents, officials, and mother nature are all uncontrollable.
When athletes develop and implement a pre-performance routine they intentionally direct attention to what is within their control. Focus is directed to preparing the mind and body to perform well and make the free throw or penalty kick.
This lowers anxiety and stress, allowing the athlete to perform to his or her potential.
A pre-performance routine brings an element of comfort to the uncomfortable pressures of competition. When an athlete uses the same routine again and again, it becomes second nature.
Think of the routine like a toddler and her baby blanket – bringing familiarity to the unfamiliar situations. Like the toddler, athletes come to know their routines. Through repetition they trust that the routines work and feel comfortable.
Added comfort, like control, leads to less stress and anxiety, which allows athletes to stay calm, relax, and focus on the task at hand.
Athletes who feel comfortable and feel a sense of control of their minds and bodies in the moment tend to be more confident. As you might assume, research shows that athletes who are more confident perform better than less confident athletes.
Pre-performance routines give athletes a repeatable process that, when used successfully over time, elevate one’s confidence.
This is why hitters who use the same routine every time they are up to bat have better batting averages and on base percentages than those who don’t.
To help you coach your athletes in developing an effective pre-performance routine, I created this free PDF poster. It outlines my A.C.E.S. model – the 4 Core Components of Every Pre-Performance Routine. It is great to hand out to your team or hang in the locker room (or both!).
Consistent Routines Lead to Consistent Results
Steve Nash attributes his success at the free throw line to his pre-performance routine. He even says it gives him a sense of control, comfort, and confidence. These are the same benefits your players can gain from developing an intentional and consistent pre-performance routine for the key moments in their sports.