7 Tips To Mentally Prepare For Field Hockey Tournaments

Playing in a tournament often brings about several challenges that are not experienced in your average weekly hockey match.

Check out this video (or read below) for tips on how to be at your best every game in a tournament.


With many possible distractions, unfamiliar or unexpected circumstances surrounding competition events it’s no wonder playing in a tournament requires a higher level of mental power than just turning up to one game every week.

Competing in several games over a shorter time frame, often over 1-2 weeks, can add extra stress on both your body and your mind.

During the tournament there is the added pressure of performing consistently and getting results which means learning to manage your mind and body for maintain optimum levels of mental and physical energy becomes very important.

Add to that the logistics of meeting at the right place, being on time, wearing the right kit, fitting in recovery between games, moving on from past games, etc.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to put together 7 tips for…

How To Mentally Prepare For Field Hockey Tournaments:

1) Clear any potential distractions

Before leaving for a tournament make sure anything that could possibly distract you in your personal life is taken care of prior to leaving for a tournament. For example it could be a school or work situations, kids, uniform, visas, etc…

If there is something that you are not able to resolve then agree to put it aside until you return back. You need as much of your mental energy as possible so you can allow yourself to focus on one thing, which is performing on the field.

2) Leave your thinking brain behind

When it comes to the brain, the way we train and the way we play is different. Our thinking part of the brain is there to analyse and help us learn and improve and that’s why we train.

By the time you step onto to field, you need to put the analysing part of the brain aside and step into the instinctive part of the brain, which reacts a lot quicker and is better suited for decision making in a fast paced sport like hockey.

Transition from a learning mindset into a performance mindset. To do this you need to learn to trust yourself and it’s why you’ve been training for months leading up to the tournament.

3) Take conditions into consideration

Depending on the level you’re playing there may be some factors to consider that may differ from your average weekly game. For example if it’s in another country think about the weather conditions, the kind of turf you may play on, the level of the opposition you will play, times of the day you might play, etc.

Practice as much as you can with these conditions in mind and visualise what it will be like playing at that location, against that opposition, imagining how you would like it to go.

4) Look after yourself

Recovery is vital. You will be likely playing a lot more games than you used to over a shorter space of time so doing what you can to stay fresh is important.

This includes everything from getting your nutrition right, staying hydrated, having icebaths, getting enough sleep, warming up properly, stretching or foam rolling after games and even taking your mind off hockey by having some fun in the little bit of down time you may get.

It is very easy to burnout mentally before the tournament ends, so it’s important to take time to switch off and have the discipline to do the simple things well.

5) Be flexible

Anything can happen in a tournament and you’re often tested most when things aren’t going your way. Don’t expect everything to go according to plan A, be ready to make changes or adjustments if necessary.

The measure of champions is often the ability to cope with and bounce back from unexpected situations that arise.

6) Prepare for each game equally

Take each game as it comes, only focussing on the next game. Never make an assumption that you will beat a team as this often causes complacency. The underdog team is often the most dangerous team to play against because they have nothing to lose.

If you’re playing for an underdog team, don’t defeat yourselves before you’ve started. Imagine how great it would be if you were to cause an upset in the tournament. Remember that the best thing about playing against better opposition is that your standard raises too.

You can use a pre-game routine to get into the right mental state so that you are playing in the zone as often as possible. Develop ways to both increase and decrease your anxiety level depending on how you are feeling on the day.

7) Stay in the present

If your team has a bad result early on in the tournament, it’s very important that you move on from that quickly. Learn from any lessons but don’t get stuck dwelling on the past.

You cannot change what has happened so don’t waste energy focussing on what could have been. Instead direct your focus to what can be done in the present.

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About The Author

Lauren Penny

Lauren is a former International Hockey Player, Performance Coach & Mentor specialising in helping hockey players to be more confident, improve their fitness and perform more consistently to get noticed and reach higher teams.