Visualize- Mentally, visualizing a positive outcome is a great way to succeed. Just close your eyes and see the ball go through the net. Or see yourself in your mind weaving through traffic for a layup. Whatever the situation is make sure it’s positive and realistic. It’s worthless to visualize you sinking a half-court shot because 1 out of 100 times you will not make it anyways. For the most part, I would visualize shooting (in your range) and seeing the ball go into the hoop. This can be done anytime before a game, the night before, 1 hour before, whatever you chose make sure it sticks with you.
Don’t Rush – Arrive at the game in a timely manner. Don’t show up 5 minutes before tip-off and quickly put your sneakers on and say “Coach, I’m sorry I was late but I’m ready to play. First off, you probably won’t get into the game very quickly. Second, you won’t be prepared mentally or physically. The first half would be like your warm-ups, there’s no fun in that! So, arrive at least 30 minutes (or more depending on the coach and other obligations) prior to your game.
To get pumped up or not? – Some people choose to get themselves worked up and pumped before a game. I’m the opposite, I like to be calm, cool and collective. It works for me because if I wasn’t I would get overly anxious and do too much too soon or would make stupid mistakes. It’s a personal choice here, by trial and error you have to see what works for you. If your the type that plays better when they are amped up then get yourself pumped for the game and do work! If you play better when your mellow and chill then “lay low” and go do work!
Eat healthy night before – A healthy nutrition is very important when it comes to performance. Try to eat pasta or anything with a lot of carbs; carbs are used for energy that the muscles and body needs. In addition to eating pasta or something similar, make sure you drink plenty of liquids the day before and day of the game. Drink about 8 cups of water and you can also drink Gatorade from time to time. Just prior to the game (1 or 2 hours) try not to eat anything heavy. I wouldn’t eat a large steak and cheese sub right before a game or you might see it on the court.
Have a good week of practice – Prepare yourself all week for the game. That means don’t just go through the motions just because of its practice. Remember your preparing for a game. This goes for everything you, even layup lines! Instead of jogging and throwing up a right-handed layup; run, keep your eyes up and explode to the hoop. This goes for the defensive end also, don’t let players go by you because you think they need to practice offence; its time to practice defence too. More times than not, you will mimic your performance in a game from practice.
Stretch and warmup Like I said before, leave plenty of room before a game and practice to stretch and warm-up. There is nothing worse than going out on the court not being able to move well because your body isn’t warmed up. Not only will you not do as well, but your more likely to injure yourself if your muscles aren’t warmed up. Most of the time you will do team stretches and warmups but if you think you need more time, go do it on your own on the side. Make sure you stretch well, get on the court and run a bit to get your heart rate up and muscles warm, and then you’ll be ready to play!
tip: Don’t warm up too hard, you’ll be exhausted when it comes time to play a game. Just do what is necessary to get you ready.
Listen to music – A good way to prepare yourself before a game is to listen to your iPod. Listen to whatever will get you ready. My all-time favourite is “Regulators” by Warren G. You can listen to anything, one of my teammates in high school preferred to listen to classical. Rock, country, rap, R&B, opera, classical, whatever your taste in music is, just listen to what gets you in the zone.
Start close, end at your range – During warmups you shouldn’t heave 30 footers. That’s pretty extreme, how about you shouldn’t even go from layups to 3-pointers. Do layups then 5 footers then move to 15 footers and if your shooting range is farther then step back. By working from closer to farther you’re building vision and confidence in making shots.