Irish's pregame rituals essential to preparation

Skylar Diggins, a sophomore All-America point guard for the nationally ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team, is blogging about her NCAA tournament experience for espnW.

What gets an athlete ready to play? What does an athlete do to get "in the zone" before a big game?

Every athlete has a pregame ritual. This could consist of listening to a favorite song to get pumped up, eating a favorite snack or pregame meal, getting words of encouragement from a friend or family member or all of the above.

Pregame rituals are different for every player. For instance, my thing is: music, hair, mom -- in that order. I listen to the same albums, artists and songs before each game. Next, my hairdo -- I'm a little superstitious, so I wear my hair according to how I played, with that hairdo, in the previous game (I know, very girly and unnecessary, some may think, but it's a habit). I'm so critical of myself, so I change my hair a lot. Finally, my mom sends me a positive quote before the game that always motivates me.

Today's quote came from Denis Waitley:

"Winners don't doubt. Doubters don't win."

"The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can't do."

My teammates and I all do different things. For instance, senior forward Becca Bruszewski receives words of encouragement from her brother. Our other senior forward, Devereaux Peters, always listens to her iPod and dances to get pumped up. Another teammate of mine, senior guard Brittany Mallory, has gotten dressed the EXACT same way for every game! Finally, junior guard Natalie Novosel always has to eat her favorite snack, a bagel and peanut butter. Although our rituals are very different, these things help us get ready for the game.

Every pregame routine is essential to the mental preparation of an athlete. These routines could be habits or superstitions, or have no reason behind them whatsoever. Rituals prepare us to play every game, especially the most important ones, and they will definitely play a critical part in the preparation for our second-round game against Temple on Monday night.

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