Do Pre-Game Speeches Really Help the Team?

We’ve all seen the movies or television shows where the coach flies into the room, gives an energetic, motivational speech, and then the team gets fired up and sprints onto the field to go play the game. Many times coaches want their players to play with as much energy as possible, to elicit that passion and to have their players “want it” more.

Does a “rah-rah” pregame speech work? The answer: For some players it helps them, and for some players it hurts them.

Each player has certain emotions that helps them perform at an optimal level. For defensive tackles, they might need to feel anger and have a high level of energy. For a pitcher, maybe calm and confident is the mindset he needs to be in. Helpful emotions are determined in part by what sport the athlete plays, what’s asked of them while they’re performing, and their own ability or inability to perform when they have a certain mindset.

In the example of a coach giving a passionate speech to get the players riled up, a quarterback may not benefit from that as much as a linebacker would. In fact, elevating the quarterback’s heart rate and breaking his focus might be detrimental to his ability to perform.

In My Mental Playbook, readers are given an opportunity to find their “Zone of Optimal Functioning.” I often work with athletes who are trying to build a pre-performance routine. Finding the mindset and emotions that typically lead to success can help athlete’s shape their routines and be mentally ready to play.

As for coaches, while I’m not suggesting doing away with all pre-game speeches, know that each player’s zone of optimal functioning is different, and coaches are better off getting their players in a mindset that best suits their needs.