How to help your players prepare to perform live on stageJul 05, 2022
Preparing your esports team to perform at their best online is one thing. Achieving the same thing for live stage performance is another. You know this, and so do your players. Performing in front of a live crowd is a very real challenge.
How you prepare your team in the months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes leading up to their live performance will make or break their results.
As their coach, it's your job to get them in the best shape possible so that you can achieve your goals as a team.
Whether you've never experienced a live event as a coach or a seasoned coach, this blog will help you get better results with your team during the preparation phase and the live performance itself.
In this blog, you will learn how to spot common reactions your players will likely experience when performing live. You will discover five ways to help your players prepare for those common reactions, including skills you can help them develop. And finally, we'll lay out a simple timeline to help you put it all into action.
First, let's begin with why you must prepare your team effectively for a live performance.
Preparation is key
Simply put, players unprepared for live performance have a higher chance of achieving poor results and having a negative emotional experience. You want the opposite for your team. You want them to show up mentally and physically ready, enjoy the competition, and hopefully take home the W. So, how can you help your team do that? The next step is to learn what common reactions your players will likely experience when performing live.
Common reactions to performing live
While you're preparing your team for their performance and on game day, you'll notice that each player will react differently to the upcoming performance. These common reactions can be observed in the player's physical reactions, such as:
- Sweaty palms
- Dry mouth
- Trembling hands and/or knees
- Rapid breathing
- Stiffness in the lower back
- Stomach ache, nausea
- Increased heart rate
As mentioned, these common reactions are precisely that - common. If you or your players have ever had to perform live in front of a crowd, these reactions are most likely relatable. Almost everyone will experience one or more of these reactions in one way or another, even if it's not their first time on stage.
As a coach, it's your job to prepare your players to deal with these reactions. Their individual and collective performance on game-day depends upon it.
Ways to prepare to perform live on stage
Here are five ways to help your players deal with those reactions and prepare.
Players can often feel overwhelmed when playing live. Feeling overwhelmed is a natural reaction of hormones triggered by their nervous system on auto pilot. This natural reaction is typically caused by thoughts running through their heads.
As a coach, having an eagle-eye view of how your players react (in the moment) and then sharing that perspective with them can be beneficial. Why? Because when they understand what is happening to them and have a way to deal with it, they will feel more in control, leading to lower stress and anxiety levels. To give an example, if you see one of your players breathing rapidly, you can say, "Hey, Tony, I see that you are breathing more rapidly and seem nervous. That's a natural reaction from your nervous system. Let's do a few quick breathing exercises together".
Another way you can help your players prepare is through practice—motivating and supporting them to practice to the point that their skills become deeply ingrained in their mind and body - until they don't have to think about what they need to do or when to do it.
This goes for physical and mental actions, such as positive self-talk. Positive self-talk helps players build a positive image of who they are. We encourage you to help them do this all the time, not just in the lead-up to a live event.
A quick tip: do not allow any changes 24-48 hours before the event begins. Do your absolute best to ensure no unexpected changes occur within this time frame. If unexpected changes occur, the likelihood of anxiety and stress increasing in your players will go up.
Forms of mindfulness
You can assist your players in preparing for things like stress and anxiety by encouraging them to use forms of mindfulness, such as meditation, listening to music, and deep breathing. Engaging in a combination of these exercises, or even one can be enough to make a difference.
Additionally, expecting mistakes should be standard practice for you and your team. Because even though positivity works, we must acknowledge that mistakes will be made. This prepares your players for unexpected situations and problems that may appear. As a coach, you can take this a step further by asking your team:
- If we are behind 0-10, what should we do?
- How do we stay focused when we are behind?
- What could happen, and how can we react in those situations?
- How can we prevent mistakes?
As well as mindfulness, visualization can be a powerful tool in helping your team prepare. There are various ways that you can do this. Fundamentally, it comes down to helping your players watch a future scenario play out in their minds like a video. This is a form of rehearsing. It primes their brain and gets them sensitized to what will and may come.
The more they use this skill, the stronger it gets. You can instruct your players to build up the 'video' in their minds from scratch, adding detail over time and incorporating all senses. And remember, it's critical that while playing the video in their minds, they must see themselves performing at their best when visualizing their performance.
Just as visualization is a form of preparation, so is rehearsing. What do we mean by this? This means playing at the location of the competition or one similar as if it were game day.
A great way to do this is to make the experience as real as possible. Start by acting as if it's game day. Speak and behave exactly as you would on that day. Tell the team all the serious things and exactly how the tournament will go down. This may feel mechanical or sound funny at the start, but as you continue, it'll start to click in your player's minds, and they'll start to believe why they are doing it. Think of it as a drama play to be acted out. It will feel real eventually. Your players will thank you for it!
How to put it into action
Finally, it's time to implement what you've learned using a simple timeline.
Putting it into action is simple. It takes a little bit of preparation to set up and execute. Start by educating the team about what preparation will look like and the benefits. Do this a couple of months out from the tournament date. Then, make a preparation plan that the team will follow for 1-2 months in the lead-up to the start of the tournament. Then, execute the plan, supporting your players by incorporating a combination of the five skills above. On game day, enjoy watching your team compete. After the tournament ends, reflect on the past few months with your team, absorb the lessons, and set your sights on the next goal!
Now that you've learned how to spot common reactions to performing live, five ways that you can help your players prepare, and a simple timeline to put it into action, you're ready to support your team crush their next live performance!
Your next level
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See you there, coach!
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