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THE SKIP SHOT

 

What Is Your Pregame Ritual?

By Aaron Brown

 

PLAINFIELD, 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 competition.

 

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 entire 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 illpolo2010@gmail.com 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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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