Pregame rituals to get pumped for games

Cosy Burnett says she looked forward to joining in the La Costa Canyon pregame cheer since she was in eighth grade. "We have fun, connect with each other and experience that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves." Courtesy of Dana Love

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams.

The “pregame pump-up” is something every athlete must do before entering a competition. A consistent pregame ritual will help you enter each match with the same passion, whether it is the state championships or a league match. It can create that “game-time attitude” with the mindset of what we are here to do is hard, but we are ready. Both team and individual pregame rituals are an important part of competing at your highest level. Here are some rituals I have seen used to ease the nerves and get pumped up to dominate the court.

Team cheers: Our ‘Shabooya’

Everyone wants to know about our “Shabooya.” It’s our team cheer. We do it before every match no matter how intense. When I was in the eighth grade, I came to my first match at La Costa Canyon High School. I remember the girls gathering in a big circle, clapping and kicking to a practiced rhythm. Each girl would switch off being in the middle, screaming their practiced four lines, which highlight their strengths in a humorous way. Then they would all mosh together to shout out the chorus. They would all be smiling and laughing. I couldn’t wait to be a part of it! Now being in the program, I get to experience the magic in this simple pregame tradition. We have fun, connect with each other and experience that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. The last thing we hear before taking our positions on the court are our teammates’ encouraging words.

Put on the war paint

Whatever you need to go into battle -- your favorite headband, your signature braid or even painting one fingernail a crazy color. I have a friend who tapes her fingers before each game for blocking, and her eyes intensify as she rips the tape with her teeth and prepares for battle.

Connect with your inner passion

Music seems to be the weapon of choice. It’s a common sight at tournaments to see girls rocking out with their headphones before a game. Especially when you play multiple matches in a day, it’s great to have a consistent song to listen to before a game. Your mind is telling your body, “OK, you’re up!” I listen to Queen, and their song “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the one for me. Its speed, complex lyrics and passion define the game for me and get me mentally where I need to be.

Get in the zone

Each team takes a turn on the court for the pregame warm-ups. It’s a great opportunity to watch the opposing team hit and just imagine yourself blocking or digging their biggest hitters. See how they swing and plan your defense -- take down their biggest strength right from the start. Visualization is a powerful thing, and before you know it, you are in the match doing just what you had visualized moments before.