Pre-game routines and rituals 


Photo of Layden Almer and Pump Up playlist by Nikolette Weiss

Nikolette Weiss

There are many student athletes at Naz, which means that there are a variety of different mental, physical, and nutritional pre-game rituals and routines that they follow. What happens before a big game can have a huge impact on performance. 

There have been popular trends surfacing on social media lately, like eating a Rice Krispy Treat before a workout, drinking energy drinks such as Celsius, or even superstitions about what order to put on gear. Is there really an ideal way to prepare for an important game? What do students think helps their performance the most?

Sophomore and varsity tennis and basketball player Audrey Moster has many different routines that play into her performance. One of her most important pre-game rituals is to get in the right headspace. To do that she likes to listen to music. She said, “I listen to a playlist that really gets me pumped up and focused for my game.”

Moster also has nutritional rituals. She always has a protein bar before her games, specifically a Fit Crunch protein bar. Moster is satisfied with her routine because she has seen positive results from it, but she is always open to new ideas.

Junior and varsity cross country runner and soccer player Colette Kinsella  has gotten her routine down to a tee. Her preparation doesn’t just start the day of her race or game, it happens far in advance. 

Kinsella always starts off by eating healthy and drinking water the days leading up to the race. The night before a race, she always eats a big bowl of pasta, and the morning of the event, she eats oatmeal with a banana. 

Although the food she consumes is important, she believes her mental state before a race is just as important. She tries to come to a peaceful state of mind. Kinsella finds it’s helpful to be with her team to help calm her down. She says, “Before a big race I like to put away all of my thoughts and worries.” As a team, they all listen to music to bring positive energy to prepare them. 

It’s easier to forget about her worries when she’s with her team because she knows that everyone is in the same boat, and that everyone will be playing as a team or running the same race. Kinsella’s cross country teammates also all have the same pink hair ribbons they wear each race to unify them and the ribbon helps them feel ready. 

Kinsella has found that she can’t think about her race too far ahead of time or she will get too nervous. She also realized she can’t push herself too hard physically the two days before a race or else she is too tired. “I try to stay calm and trust in my team and my own abilities,” she said. 

Before every race, her coach ties her shoes because she is superstitious about it and thinks they will come undone if she does it herself. The team prays together and does a cheer as well. 

Naz Athletic Trainer, Frank Doore, offers some advice and opinions about how athletes can prepare before their games. He agreed with Moster and Kinsella and talked a lot about diets, headspace, and physical state. Doore thinks that one of the most important things is your own experience and opinion, and finding what works for the athlete. Doore said,“Find what works for you and stick with it.” 

However, Doore has suggestions that do work for a lot of people. Athletes need to always have a well balanced diet and he believes they should eat something that isn’t too high in sugar 2-3 hours before a game. It’s best to eat whole foods and not anything super heavy. He thinks that one can get enough energy from food alone, like apples or granola bars, so energy drinks aren’t necessary for young teens. They can make you jittery, and even lead you to crash mid-performance, he said.

Every athlete is different, so there isn’t one ideal way to prepare. Athletes all have different ideas of what gets them in the right mindset. Whether that is listening to music or stretching, everyone should find what works for them. Some will even do superstitious things like having a coach tie their shoelaces, always wearing the same socks or a lucky bracelet, and that’s great too. 

University Hospitals based in Cleveland backs up what Doore says, “The goal for the pre-event meal is to make sure you have enough fuel to get through the entire athletic event. The pre-event meal should give you the energy to perform and can help prevent fatigue, decrease hunger pain and provide hydration,” advised the hospital on their website. 

Overall, there are many ways to make the most of a game through one’s preparations. Focus on diet and metal state, but most importantly, find what works best for you and stick with it.