Thursday, January 31, 2013

Examining the Hype

Photo Credit: Jarrad Henderson
It’s one of those things that each athlete does differently but, what and how they do it, definitely works to set them apart. And while they don’t need much help, having invested practice after practice, workout after workout, into preparing themselves for game day, each and every athlete has their own way of getting hyped.

This past weekend, as I traveled for the first time with the Bombers to Miami, I had a perfect opportunity to watch how many of these women warriors got themselves pumped up for the competition down south. And after a long, cramped four and a half hour van trip, we all needed something to get the blood flowing.

It was actually an interesting experience, to see how different folks got themselves going. Some were content, or perhaps overwhelmed by the trip, to simply wait to near the last minute before gearing up and heading out to the track. Granted, lunch/dinner was a late affair and their waiting could have simply been a part of letting that food settle.

Others, however, were more proactive in their approach. Even as far away as two hours from the start time, a few players took off on a slow jog, making the parking lot their virtual stadium as they ran a few laps. Some were less energized, opting for a brisk walk around the lot instead. And a few just couldn’t wait, strapping on their skates, shunning any potential damage to their wheels, and rocketed around the place with reckless abandon, ready to go.

Of course, things get more interesting once the players enter the arena. It’s almost funny, yet understandable, to watch the near stoic way in which players gear up, stone-faced and nearly silent as skates are laced up and tightened, pads are adjusted, and helmets slapped on their heads. This attitude seems to continue in some respects as they took to the track as well, getting in their warm up laps before and after stretching out. Ironically, there’s little conversation taking place here.

Yet, once the actual warm ups begin, the two teams stepping to the track to warm up, as a team, things get interesting. Miami, as I’d stated earlier this week, put on a great event and their DJ was pumping out some solid jams from the moment we stepped into the rink. The music seemed infectious, enlivening the growing crowd and putting a little swagger into the routines of both squads.

For me, the key component of getting hyped to play (at least when it was volleyball or basketball) has always been the music. Sure, each player has their preference, whether one player is bouncing to Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” while another kicks it club-style with some LMFAO and “Party Rockin’.” Even more want “Welcome to the Jungle” while a few outsiders would love big symphonic notes from the movies, epic themes building up the excitement.

The other factor that seems to be important in getting amped for a competition seems to be the element of sameness. Bear with me here; this’ll make sense in a moment. We practice for hours on end, running through drills, fundamentals, and scrimmages to be ready for a match, bout, game, you name it. And when it comes to the actual competition, the critical factor for us is to have that same sense of comfort, whether we’re walking into our rink or an opponent’s. We want to feel as though we’re on familiar territory, at home or away.

Which is why familiarity is so important to our routine of getting pumped. We need and thrive on having that song which gets us moving as much as we need to gear up in as similar a way as possible. That way, when we get to playing, at home or away, we’re ready, knowing that our bodies are comfortable, our mind is engaged, and we’re ready to kick some ass.

I guess I sort of veered off from full on hype here but sometimes your mind just wanders, y’know? But, looking back, I think some of this actually makes some sense…

But, now that my mind has steered back on topic, what gets you hyped? What's your song? What do you focus on in the minutes leading up to a bout? Do tell...

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