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Steph Curry’s 8 Tips for Creating a Pregame Ritual
As you create your own pregame ritual, remember that a good warm-up activates your body, connects your body and mind, and primes you to play. Steph encourages you to be creative and develop your own pregame preparation, using his techniques as a starting point.
- Treat every game the same regardless of stakes. Whether it’s a preseason game or Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Steph’s pregame preparation is the same. Consistency prevents him from getting psyched out or overly excited about a big game. Whether you’re gearing up for a high school pre-season game or the Olympic basketball finals, an effective pregame routine should prepare you to execute well in any situation.
- Get sufficient rest the night before the game. Steph stresses that you have to make sacrifices in order to make sure you're fully alert and focused come game time. Your body needs at least eight hours of sleep the night before game day in order to perform at its peak capability. To ensure you get enough sleep, plan to finish all your school, work, or other responsibilities in advance, and turn down invitations to any late-night social events.
- Eat right and hydrate the day leading up to a game. Basketball players need to eat a diet that provides enough energy for them to play at the highest level. This typically consists of high-carb, low-fat meals the night before and the day of your game. It can be hard to avoid unhealthy foods, but Steph believes you can't cheat any part of your preparation process if you want to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
- Develop an effective stretching routine. Steph knows how important a proper stretching routine is to get your body ready to play a basketball game. Stretching is most effective once your muscles are already loose; warm-up before you stretch by lightly jogging around the gym or performing some basic basketball drills. While there's no universal stretching routine, try to assemble a regimen that takes care of your hamstrings, calves, hips, groin, lower back, and shoulders.
- Develop an effective warm-up sequence. Before Steph practices jump shots or layups, he starts with a two-ball dribble sequence to lay out his ball-handling foundation, knowing that he’ll be dribbling the ball far more than shooting it. Once he does about 15 to 20 minutes of ball-handling work, he moves on to some form shooting drills. Even though you're only warming up, make sure to shoot and dribble at game speed to properly mimic your actual technique. Some players find that doing the same routine before every game becomes tedious, but remember that repetition is an important part of basketball training in order to create muscle memory.
- Study your opponents. Off the court, Steph studies his opponents’ style by watching film of their games so that he can prepare a specific game strategy. The best players don't just work hard on the physical aspects of the game—they also work to create a mental game plan. For those who don't have access to game film of the opposing team, look up the team's schedule and go watch them play a game live instead. If you're looking to get into your team’s starting line up and increase your playing time, it’s worth putting in the extra preparation time to study your opponent.
- Visualize the game unfolding. As you prepare for your next game, take some time to visualize the game unfolding before it even happens. Imagine high-pressure situations like a buzzer-beater, and visualize yourself relying on your mechanics and practice to carry your team through them. Mastering your emotions and being in control of your own mind is an essential mental basketball skill.
- Practice breathing exercises. Steph says one of his favorite ways to stay calm during a quick break or timeout is to close his eyes and take some deep breaths for about ten seconds. Mindful breathing techniques allow you to set the pressure aside for a moment and calm your nerves.
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