Using Warm-ups to Set the Tone Early

Confidence in Sports

Don’t Wait To Set the Tone

What is your mindset at the start of a competition? Do you tend to play cautiously at the beginning of a game or come out of the gates swinging?

When you try to ease into a competition, two things generally happen:

1. You find yourself behind early in the competition. A slow start is due to a cautious mindset.

When you play cautiously, you will find yourself losing early in a game, panicking, and making more mistakes. 

Many athletes fail to regain their composure after a slow start and never rebound from an early deficit.

2. You set the tone for your play and have difficulty flipping the switch. 

A slow start often translates into a slow finish. It isn’t easy to go from zero to 100 in seconds. No momentum is hard to overcome.

You can’t depend on luck to determine your intensity at the start of a competition. If you rely on luck, you will usually feel emotionally flat or mentally scattered and may not be able to snap out of that emotional state.

The goal is to set the tone early in a competition, that is, in the warm-up.

If you want to play aggressively to start a game, mentally prepare to be firing on all cylinders during warm-up.

If you want to play with confidence, activate a confident mindset during warm-up. Pay attention to your competitive mindset during warm-up so you can perform at your peak from the start of a competition.

When you are energized in warm-up and tend to your competitive mindset, you mentally and physically fuel your performance. 

You have momentum as the competition begins, and you will have a mental edge over the competition.

Early in the 2022 NFL season, two-time Pro Bowler Demarcus Lawrence matched a career-high with three sacks in one game. 

Lawrence helped the Dallas defense overwhelm New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in the Cowboys’ 23-16 victory. 

With Lawrence’s leadership, the Cowboys sacked Jones five times, recorded 12 QB pressures, and pressured Jones on 40.5% of his dropbacks.

After the game, Lawrence talked about his mindset heading into the game: “The energy was up, my body felt good today, so I attacked it.”

The two important words are “energy” and “attack.” Lawrence’s energy was high due to his preparation during warm-up. 

Lawrence prepared his body and mind to get after it as soon as the game started. The word “attack” reminded Lawrence to play aggressively from the game’s first snap.

To play at your peak, you need to decide how you want to play, how you will prepare to play, and how to fuel your mindset before the competition starts.

Before warm-up, identify one word that summarizes how you want to perform, such as “poised,” “confident,” or “attack.”

Use this cue word during warm-up to remind yourself of the mindset you want to take into the competition.

Be sure to raise your intensity to an optimal level that will help you focus your best and start strong! 

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