Coffees, walks, sleep-ins or PlayStation time: each athlete’s match day routine is different.
Some are what you’d expect, ultra-professional from word go, but others will keep things as ‘normal’ as possible in a bid to stay relaxed.
South Australia and Adelaide Strikers batsman Jake Lehmann adopts the second approach.
“I don’t reckon most of the boys are waking up before 10 or 11 o’clock before night games,” he told The New Daily. “Then [we] wander down to breakfast and really cash in with some eggs and a couple of coffees.”
Lehmann’s approach is deliberately casual. “I don’t think [routines] effect your performance at all. It’s just whatever you do on the day I reckon,” he said.
“I know a couple of boys like [my teammate Jake Weatherald] to listen to tunes by themselves on the bus on the way to the ground, but I’m pretty chilled out.
“Normally I just sit in the rooms and chill out.”
Sydney Kings star Jason Cadee is similarly relaxed, even finding time for video games before he plays.
“I live with a teammate, Todd Blanchfield, so for us, we go and have breakfast somewhere, then basically go back and hang out at the house and play a bit of PlayStation,” he told The New Daily.
“I do like playing some sort of Mario Kart or PlayStation game. I feel like it takes my mind off things and I get to relax.”
Collingwood AFLW star Steph Chiocci is far more particular about her routine.
The colour of her underwear needs to be right, as does the number of squats she completes in the rooms. She tries not to get too annoyed when things don’t go exactly to plan, though.
“Whilst I have a routine, I’m also very much aware that [if it changes] … it doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be prepared,” she told The New Daily.
“We catch a team bus to our game and usually get there about an hour and a half to two hours before the game.
“I walk on the oval … have a look around, then we start activation stretches inside and do all our meetings.”
But before she gets to the ground, Chiocci also favours a distraction.
“Leading into the game, I try to distract myself. Last year I went and watched a movie with a teammate to try to get my mind off the game.”
For Emma Inglis, wicketkeeper with the Melbourne Renegades in the Women’s Big Bash League, preparation actually starts the night before a match.
Inglis, an early riser on match day, told The New Daily: “The night before I normally pack all my bags and make sure I’ve got everything.
“Then I don’t have to think about it [the match] until I get to the ground.”
Perth Glory’s Liam Reddy has other disruptions to focus on.
The 36-year-old A-League journeyman juggles his three children and their needs when playing at home on match day.
“The older you get, you might have to do something when you’ve got kids,” he told The New Daily. “I used to concern [myself] a lot when I was younger. But I find it’s good to keep yourself occupied and then you can think about the game when you get there or on the way to the ground.”
The challenge of playing interstate can cause serious alterations to an athlete’s routine.
It presents a particularly difficult challenge for Reddy, given the time difference between Perth and the rest of Australia. Still, his strategy is fairly simple.
“I find when we go away, I stay on Perth time,” Reddy said. “It just means you go to bed a little bit later, one or two o’clock in the morning, and then wake up at 10 or 11 in the morning.
“I just find that works better for me and also it makes it easier when you come back to Perth.”
Over time, routines become habitual, and superstitions form.
Inglis has one she can’t shake – a chewing gum addiction.
“I don’t really know where it came from,” she said. “I think it’s just always when I was younger, when I went out to bat or went out to field, I’d just take one piece [of gum] and pop it in my mouth and then I’d have a spare in my pocket.
“I’ve just done it every game since … regardless if I need it or not.”