How to Shine When the Lights are Bright: Postseason Mindset Tips

It’s postseason time for spring sports. The time when the lights are bright. The moment your season and your goals are on the line. How’s your postseason mindset?

When you’re in these high stakes situations, things change. You’ve got to know what components of your mental game need to be adjusted and what needs to stay the same. 

What Changes When the Lights are Bright

  1. Adrenaline. During big competitions, you can count on adrenaline. Extra energy, extra jitters, heightened emotions.
  2. Spotlight. In the postseason, there are more eyes on you. When you make it to the big games, you’ll notice that more people are watching/interested in the outcome than in the regular season.
  3. Pressure. This shows up in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. The pressure can be real or perceived—they feel the same. It can be external (from teammates, coaches, spectators) or internal (from yourself, your high expectations, the goals you want to achieve).
  4. More fanfare. In the postseason, there’s more going on. More people. Press, athlete, and coach passes needed. Bigger lines at the concession stands and bathrooms. T-shirts to buy. Might not seem like a big deal, but all of this signals to your brain that something is different here.
  5. Longer travel. Change in event details. Once you make the postseason, odds are you’ll have a greater distance to travel and possibly a hotel stay. Postseason is also known for more rule enforcement and sometimes changes in how the event is run.

Now that you can anticipate these changes, you can make a postseason mindset plan. When we develop a Complete Mental Game Plan with our clients, they know what to do, when to do it, and how to adjust for the uncontrollable…not control it…but adjust accordingly.

What to Adjust & What to Leave the Same in Your Postseason Mindset

Let’s talk about a few components that you’ll want to adjust.

Intensity Level. This is the big one. Our athletes know what intensity level works best for them. They know how to hype themselves up or calm themselves down when needed. Taking into account the adrenaline that comes from playing on the big stage, you’ll need to look at how that’s changing your intensity. Do you play best at a 7, but know the environment alone will have you at a 9? Or maybe the build up had you too hyped too soon and now you’ve dropped to a 5. Check in with yourself. Do a quick body scan to see where you are and have strategies to get back to your zone.

Green Zone. This is the zone leading up to your performance. When they begin the timer or start keeping score, you’re in the gold zone. Gold zone doesn’t change, but the green zone will look different. Sterling Sport Mindset athletes have mapped out their green zone and know what they’re doing and what their target intensity level is in each zone. Know that those zones change for big competition days. You’re likely on the bus longer. There’s more going on in general. Your warm-up time might be extended or cut short. There may be extra rules or restrictions that weren’t enforced during the regular season. Take some time to think about these changes and where you want your energy and focus to be during each. Remember your “switch flip” and gold zone stay the same.

Imagery. Add details specific to this competition to your imagery. If you’ve competed there before, add in a few things you can remember from the venue. If not, add in what you know will be different, larger/louder crowd, etc. Make sure to include extra excitement in your imagery and seeing yourself settling into your optimal zone before you compete.

Now, here’s a few things that should 100% remain the same. Please don’t change these!

Taking out the Mind Trash & other Daily Mindset Tasks. If you work with us, you likely have daily mindset tasks like thought downloads, breathing exercises, activating thoughts, etc. Keep doing those. Sometimes when we need our routines the most is the time we let them go. Don’t let that be you. There may be extra excitement, extra practice, or fun send-off parties happening. Enjoy the moments, but stay focused on the goal. Keep doing the mental reps that got you to where you are. 

Performance & Refocus Routines. Hopefully all of you reading this have a specific routine. If you’re a Sterling Sport Mindset athlete, I know you do! This 3 part (paired with a breath) routine should not change. We’ve developed it in a way that it’s available to you at every competition. No matter what, even when. The reason your routine is so powerful is because it can get you focused and in the right head space regardless of what’s going on around you. Don’t change it. Rely on it. – If you think this competition changes your routine, then you need a different routine, one that can be consistent at every competition. Your routine is gold. Use it.

Game Day You. Our athletes know their “Game Day You” the athlete you become when you take the field, approach the starting line, etc. If you’re not a Sterling Sport Mindset athlete yet, think of this as your alter ego. Who you become when it’s game time. Like your routine, this doesn’t change. You’re still going to flip the switch into Game Day You when you make the Green/Gold Zone transition. This allows you to be in the mindset you’ve planned for in this moment. Own it. 

Bright lights and big competitions can feel daunting, but you simply need to know where to adjust and where to go all-in on your mental game plan. You’ve got this!

Game Day is Your Day.

The Sterling Sport Mindset Team

Competing in the postseason? Or have a plan to play in future big games? You’re in the right place to develop your postseason mindset! Schedule an initial consultation for our signature Complete Mental Game Program. We have immediate openings. Need after school or after practice sessions? We’ve got you!

Want to get started with a confidence boost? Join our free 5-Day Sport Confidence Challenge!

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