No athlete in the world just throws on their gear and runs out to compete.
Ahead of every performance, they follow a pre-game ritual.
For some athletes this ritual begins days or even weeks ahead of the competition.
Thinking ahead they are changing their physical and mental habits, such as those athletes who cut out sex ahead of a big game.
On the day of the competition, their rituals are even more specific.
Some will wake at a specific time, eat a specific breakfast, listen to specific music, and run through specific exercises.
Some have a prayer or a mantra they repeat to get their head in the game.
Once they arrive at the venue, another sequence of rituals begins.
If they are doing it right, they will peak at the right moment, driving themselves into the zone for optimum performance.
But, again, their rituals don’t end there.
Watch them and you see they have small rituals they go back to over and over again.
Like a basketball player always sets up her shot a certain way, a quarterback might move the ball around in his hands a certain way.
Pushing and pulling on the ball, to the casual observer he might look to be fidgeting, but he is starting the ritual from which his next actions naturally flow.
While these rituals are essential for a top performing athlete, we can all adopt our own rituals that enable us to reach top performance in any meeting, sport, or event.
To identify for yourself a top performance ritual, ask these three questions:
- To perform at my best, how must I feel? For instance, you might need to be feeling confident, or charismatic, or certain.
- How do I feel this way? Now, here is the trick, you want to step inside this feeling as fully as you can, really, deeply, experiencing this feeling.
- What is a physical gesture or movement or idea I can repeat to trigger this feeling? For instance, it might be standing a certain way, or a fist pump, or some simple gesture or statement that triggers this feeling in you.