You may know, or be, an athlete who has a ritual before competition. It could be a certain meal, or putting on a uniform in a certain order, or wearing specific pieces of clothing (the lucky socks, for example). While these may bring a perceived luck of the Irish to some, in the world of mental training, we like to encourage athletes to have a pre-performance routine with more meaning than luck. Does that same bowl of cereal before a game help you focus better? Will your lucky head band calm physical or mental stress before a match? This is what we mean when we say that a pre-performance routine should have meaning behind it.
I encourage athletes to have a pre-performance routine that 1.) Is meaningful 2.) Mentally and physically prepares them for competition and 3.) Is specific to their performance needs. Your pre-performance/ pre-game routine should do this and more. Take a moment to review your pre-performance routine to make sure that you are depending on actions that focus on preparation and readiness rather than luck alone.
Sometimes, it’s said that athletes get lucky breaks that attribute to their success. I feel like the idea of luck takes away from athletes’ preparation. A “lucky break” can be more so the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Think about it, if you've been practicing above and beyond what is expected, and due to unforeseen circumstances, the starter can no longer participate, you’re up next. You have an amazing athletic performance and eventually earn the starting position. This is more of an instance where preparation meets opportunity more than luck.
I think the thing with luck is that it takes away an athlete’s control over his or her performance. An athlete can’t control or influence luck, but he or she can control and influence his or her preparation, performance, and taking advantage of opportunities. Now, am I saying luck isn’t real? Not even. But what I am saying is that athletes should take control of their “luck” by enhancing their mental and physical strengths and making the most of every opportunity presented to them. Now, go and #FlexThatLuckyMuscle!