THE SKIP SHOT
What Is Your Pregame Ritual?
By Aaron Brown
IL -- Every athlete seems to have a
certain way they prepare for a water polo game. Some come from a swimming
background, where the only way they know how to prepare
for a game is to eat a huge pasta dinner, watch a movie like Gladiator the
night before, and listen to the Rocky soundtrack on the bus ride to the
Some might take a more laid-back approach. I remember
teammates in high school who walked to a playerís house, played video games,
watched Jerry Springer, ate chips, drank Slurpees, and then wondered why
they had a stomach ache during pregame warm-ups. Iíve seen some players
wrestling on the deck before games and looking like they lack focus, then go
out and lead their team to a convincing win less than an hour later.
Since many games are played midweek after a 7+ hour
school day, I often wonder how athletes choose to stay focused throughout
the day while sitting in an Algebra or Biology class.
Coaches probably approach things a bit differently. There are only so many
ways a starting lineup can be adjusted with seven starting spots
available, but Iíve seen coaches scrutinize and change their minds
countless times before a game. Some coaches will spend most of their time
before a game getting the pool facility setup perfectly to keep them occupied, with a certain amount of warm-up balls
dropped into the pool, the shot clocks setup and angled perfectly towards each
bench, and so on. Minutes later, they might
go over and readjust the angle of the shot clocks because they saw them from a
different angle and thought they looked a little bit off.
Other coaches might have a different job than that of a teacher and can
only get to games with a minimal amount of preparation, though theyíve
probably spent all day at work and the drive to the game visualizing how the
first quarter will play out.
For players and coaches alike, there is probably no right or wrong way to
prepare for a game. Whatever works for one individual may not work for
another. After all, some people are more conventional than others. Iíve
probably done something similar to everything I mentioned in the previous
paragraphs as both a player and a coach, though I tend to think I am more
on the conventional side when it comes to preparation. Then again, I once
downed three Red Bulls and brought a 2-liter of Mountain Dew to
an away game to keep me fired up to coach both the Varsity and JV games
after a long day of school, so what do I know? At least we won both games
before I crashed on the couch as soon as I got home.
Whatever your ritual, we would like to hear from you. How do you prepare
for a game? I would like to post the best responses. Send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to comment.
Additional note: When I began reporting on
this sport, I spent so much time covering sectionals that I decided to tailgate
between the Friday and Saturday games since I didnít want to drive over an hour
to get home only to have to drive right back again early the next morning. I was
going to stay up working on the site anyways and I had been spending so much
time attending games and tournaments that spring, so I just decided to go to
IHOP after midnight and then tailgate outside the pool with a small Weber grill
and a cooler full of Coke and Mountain Dew in the morningÖso what was I saying
earlier about being conventional?