Minnehaha athlete’s game preparation
Preparing for a game is a huge part of the sport you play. Some athletes listen to a pregame playlist, others eat a certain meal before big games, and some wear the same socks every game.
For Molly DiNardo, a freshman, cross country is a very mental sport and she has certain pregame routines that help her stay focused.
“The day of (the race) I always eat peanut butter toast, a banana, and coffee,” said DiNardo. “And I always wear the same racing socks and uniform.” Whether it’s cross country, basketball, football, etc. You have to be ready to play when the time comes.
The preparation leading up to a game is very important, but also the preparation in the offseason is also key. Collin Quinn, who used to be the head coach of the SMB Wolfpack stressed the importance of physically training your body in the offseason.
“I think it starts for athletes, not even like the day of the game, but leading to it, I mean even in the offseason,” said Quinn. “Strength and conditioning and nutrition, particularly are really important aspects of getting their body ready. And the just learning the movements, the muscle memory of the things that they need to be able to do, over and over again.”
Football is a mental sport Quinn said, so you need to be able to clear your mind and play with confidence and without fear. You need to push yourself and your teammates to become the best they can be, and that requires putting in the time and effort to develop yourself. Working hard and giving 100% in practice and games is very important, but also putting the extra time in the weight room, gym, field, etc. Being a great athlete isn’t something that’s just given to you, you have to work each and every day to improve, and to become the best you can be.
“I don’t think it’s something you just master, I think it’s a constant search for how you focus yourself and prepare yourself to compete at a very high level,” said Quinn. “There are some players here that do it, really, really well, who really understand how to get themselves ready, and who love to compete, and we love the highest levels of competition, and they really understand how to get themselves ready to go.”
Jalen Suggs, a senior, is one of the athletes that Quinn mentioned, who knows how to get himself focused on games. Suggs, who plays both football and basketball, says the mental aspect is similar in both sports, except in football you get a break after plays.
“Before the game, I put my headphones in, and try to get locked in and focused,” said Suggs. “I just try to imagine myself going through the motions and doing everything right throughout the game. And then before the games make sure I get a good warm-up in and get stretched,” said Suggs.
Chet Holmgren, a junior, who plays basketball alongside Suggs, believes that his sport is predominantly mental, and preparation requires a lot of visualization. A big part of basketball is going through the motions of a game.
“I just kind of go through the game in my head, how it’s going to go down,” said Chet. “I also think about the different situations I’ll be in and how to handle them.”
No matter what sport you play, many players here at Minnehaha say the best way to prepare for a big game is to visualize it beforehand. Take time to imagine yourself going through the motions, scoring the winning goal or playing unstoppable defense. For these athletes, the main thing about preparation is hyping yourself up so you play the best game you can. And according to Quinn, it’s about knowing your job on the team and knowing how to prepare yourself so you can perform to the best of your abilities. It’s about winning and putting in the work when no one is watching so when you do win in front of a crowd, or for Suggs and Holmgren cameras, you are playing at your best, and you know you’ve put every last ounce of effort into that game or match.