Why You Need a Pregame Ritual

Any leader can tell you that focus is imperative to success. And as the NBA Playoffs began last week, you’ll see that many coaches and players are already deep in concentration for the post season.  

Someone who understands that amount of focus is Jason Terry of the Sacramento Kings. Terry is one of the most accomplished bench scorers in the NBA, a former Sixth Man of the Year, and played an integral part in the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks’ incredible championship run.

Terry also has the distinction of being one of the league’s most superstitious players.

Last year, the New York Times profiled Terry and his non-traditional disciplines. The night before each game, Terry can be found sleeping in the opposing team’s uniform shorts. Seriously. On game day, Terry’s pre-game meal has to include chicken. During games, if he misses consecutive shots, he changes his shoes during a break. If he lands a few key shots from the field, Terry explodes into his signature celebration—which includes raising both arms to his shoulders, crouching over, and running up the court like an airplane taking off.

Though all of this may sound odd, Terry’s rituals are part of how he brings focus to his game.

Rituals have a meditative factor to them. They conjure emotional balance. Great leaders use rituals to help them take their minds to a place to where they are mentally ready to perform. In my new webinar series on building a culture of Greatness, I discuss how a shared focus can create success within your business or organization.

Terry has used his rituals since college, where he was an Arizona Wildcat and playing in the 1997 national championship against Kentucky. When Arizona won, the rituals became a permanent fixture in Terry’s life.

I have some rituals of my own. During pre-speech introductions before my public speaking engagements, I call my wife and we repeat the exact words to each other. I fold a napkin into a triangle, in honor of John Wooden’s pyramid of success. I then tie my left and right shoe in the same order and, last but not least, I say the exact same prayer to myself. When I am done, I am ready to go! 

Great leaders know how to channel themselves into a completely focused state. You have to be at your mental and emotional best when tackling that challenging project or preparing for a big game. Winners hate to lose more than they love to win, and because of this motivation they focus 100% on every practice, meeting, game… or speech!

Do you have any rituals that sharpens your focus? As you pursue success on a daily basis, how often do you get in your zone? 


This post originally appeared on DonYaeger.com.


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