PRE-MATCH PREPARATION – ARE YOU PREPARED FOR COMBAT?

By Peter Lee (JTCC Senior Advisor Optimal Performance)

During the summer our coaches and players discuss and work at effective preparation as if it were for army combat. This preparation should begin when the match is called. The sooner players prepare their technical repetitions, competition simulations, and strong physical fitness and mental strength programs, the better equipped they will be!  

With over 15 years of experience in the performance psychology field, you would guess that the highest quality preparation I have ever experienced has been in consulting with our army service members! In my work with our Special Operations Forces, I learned the importance and meaning of standardization, deliberate training, and simulated training.  

Since I had not been an enlisted soldier in the Military, I experienced a significant learning curve.  As with any new sport, business culture or field of work in which I train individuals, I worked hard to absorb the Military’s protocols, culture and learned all the acronyms for programs. 

While I am training our players for preparation for competition, these useful military acronyms pop into my head: Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Reconnaissance (Recon), Situation Report (SITREP), After Action Review (AAR), and Rehearsal of Concept (ROC Drill).  

Let’s adapt these systems, protocols and concepts to help our players In competition:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) – refers to a unit’s unique procedures. 

o   Players should have a consistent pre, during, and post routines or procedures to maintain consistency to help them be prepared for any situation.

  • Reconnaissance (Recon) – a preliminary survey to gain information; especially: an exploratory military survey of enemy territory.

o   Players should research tournament details in great detail!  The goal is to gain insight into the elements players will face throughout the entire tournament or competition.

  • Situation Report (SITREP) – is a periodic report of the current (military) situation.

o   Players should evaluate their current strengths and assess their growth by reflecting on past performance in practice and previous competitions.  For increased success, players can review, discuss and update coaches on their strategies. 

  • After Action Review (AAR) – is a structured review or de-brief, process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better. 

o   Players will build competence and thereby, develop confidence in their game!  They will learn from previous mistakes and setbacks. They capitalize on their performance strengths by analyzing past play.  Maturity and growth occurs from the reviewing process. In this way, they will train and compete more efficiently and successfully in the future.

  • Rehearsal of Concept (ROC Drill) – The rehearsal, is an important tool in the
    commander’s arsenal for planning and executing complex events.

o   Players should practice solid mental rehearsal or imagery to prepare for competition.  They should expect both success and challenges to deal with all eventualities! The most successful athletes constantly use mental preparation skills and all their senses to execute their plan.

Fortunately, the outcome and challenges are different from those of the Special Forces!  But we know that all elite performers Recognize the importance of quality and deliberate preparation. The best performers are physically, mentally, tactically, and technically prepared by creating and utilizing systems, protocols and routines.

 The mental skills of creating mission goals, ability to focus on The Now,  executing your vision, performing under pressure during stressful situations and effective thinking is universal.  

Bottom line, everyone can enhance and standardize their pre-performance routines to achieve greatness.  And remember: “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail” – Benjamin Franklin