Prepare, Perform, Reflect

To prepare for any game and to perform at your best, they key is to listen to your coach, attend team practices, and just keep practicing the skills! After practicing the skills individually and with your team, then you are ready to perform in a game/competition of your chosen sport. After the game/competition, reflect on your performance and your team’s performance to determine how you and your team can improve before the next game/competition.


The first step to improving your game is to prepare.

  • Have you ever heard the term “Practice makes perfect”?
    • If so, I do not believe in this quote because there is no such thing as perfection.
  • However, I do embrace the concept that you can attain higher level skills and improve on your existing skills by working with your coaches and practicing the skills.
  • Preparing for your game/competition includes attending all team practices, working on your individual skills, and reviewing game/competition strategies with your coach.


At a competition, you may feel nervous, jittery, or that you “have butterflies in your stomach”. With your individual skill practices in combination with the practice sessions that you have attended for your team, you should be feeling confident in your sport skills by the time you begin a game/competition.

Some suggestions that can help you relax prior to a game/competition include:

  • Peppermint Essential oil Aromatherapy
    • Using a peppermint essential oils have been known to help calm nerves or stomach-related uneasiness that may occur before a game/competition.
      • Rubbing a drop on your wrist with a roller-essential oil preparation before the game/competition can be helpful.
      • If you have sensitive skin or the aroma may be bothersome during the game, you may choose to place a drop or two onto a tissue or cotton-ball to smell when you are feeling nervous.
        • You can place the tissue or cotton-ball into your pocket or athletic bag so it can be handy to smell the aroma.
  • Slow Deep Breathing
    • Taking deep breaths can help you focus and relax.
    • This helps you slow down and to not get too far ahead of yourself.
    • Utilize abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing techniques by having your abdomen expand as you breathe in, then relax when you exhale.
    • Have your exhalation be twice as long as your inhalation.
      • Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4.
      • Then breathe out slowly from your mouth to the count of 8.
  • Visualization
    • Visualization can assist you by creating a mental image of how you want your sports performance to look like before you begin your game/competition.
    • To visualize, close your eyes and picture in your mind the skills you want to perform.
    • Create in your mind a visual image of how you would like the game/competition to occur when you engage in playing the sport.
    • Visualizing your next play or skill can be helpful to calm nerves at a given moment.
    • If you can imagine yourself performing what you plan in your mind, then you have a better chance that it will happen this way.


Once your game/competition is over, it is time to reflect on your performance. For example, imagine you were practicing your lay-ups before your next basketball game. At the game, you make most of your lay-ups, but miss every foul shot. As you reflect on this game, you realize that you need to keep practicing your lay-ups, but also work on your foul shots.

  • Reflecting on how you play contributes to how you can best prepare for the next game/competition.
  • Consider reflecting on the following questions:
    • How did the team overall perform?
      • What were some strengths of your team during the game/competition?
      • Did your team identify any specific areas of weakness?
      • Were there any areas of difficulty during the game/competition?
    • How did you perform as an individual team member?
      • Did you perform your skills satisfactorily?
      • Do you need more practice for any specific skills?
  • Ways you can reflect:
    • Talking to your teammates to discuss the plays/skills that occurred during the game.
    • Watching video footage taken during the competition.
    • Reviewing pictures taken during competition.
    • Discussing the competition performance with your coach.

Based on the reflection information that you collect, work with your coach to develop a practice plan to sharpen your skills before the next game/competition.

Prepare, Perform, Reflect

As you can see, a circle between preparing, performing, and reflecting is formed which strengthens teams and athletes to perform at their highest level. Think about these 3 components of competition as you engage in your best efforts to excel in your sport of choice. This will help you with reaching your personal best abilities as you assist your team to reach new heights in games/competitions.