Athletes and Their Preparation

The rituals and pre-game routines Mamaroneck athletes follow


Photo Courtesy of LOHUD

The Varsity Ice Hockey team plays with a crowd through the glass.

Theo Norkin

For LeBron James it’s a chalk toss. For Tom Brady it’s watching 4-5 hours of film a day. For Serina Williams it’s taping up her ankles. All the way from practice to game time, athletes follow routines and rituals to perform the best that they can when they step out into the spotlight. While some may be seen as crazy by fans, they all serve the purpose of getting athletes into the proper zone needed to succeed. We hear all the time about the different methods that pro-athletes follow, but we don’t usually hear about what our own high school stars do. Here’s what two of our athletes do to get themselves in the zone before the whistle blows. 

Rhett Chambers (‘23) played wide receiver for the Tigers this past unforgettable fall football season and is a captain and attacker for the Varsity lacrosse team. He knows what it is like to have all eyes watching him, and has his ways to stay focused and be the best athlete possible. While a lot of his preparation remains the same between the two sports, much of it changes as well. 

For both football and lacrosse, the coaches plan out set team warmups for pregame. These warmups are divided into individual positional work as well as group work allowing everyone to start moving as a team. Oftentimes players going through injury will do their own things on the side before team warmups, such as heat therapy and extra stretching. 

Another thing that is similar between the two sports for Chambers is film study. Watching around an hour of film in preparation for each game, he mainly focuses on studying opponents, but also watches for team and personal performance. According to Chambers, strategy must change drastically from game to game. “In football, we would have completely different points of attack on offense each game based on the defense our opponent ran. From WR blocking schemes, to which pass plays/run plays are called, everything changed almost every game” Chambers says. “With lacrosse, we have to be able to react to whatever an opposing defense throws at us, so communication, chemistry, and preparation are our main priorities. Our last focus before games is figuring out guys’ individual matchups, this gives each player a chance to scout their 1 on 1 matchup for the upcoming game”. 

As with many athletes, Chambers also has his superstitions and rituals. If he gets a win in game one of this season, he will wear the same length of socks, same shirt under his pads, and won’t re tape his stick. Chambers knows many of his teammates follow the “don’t wash game gear” superstition, but he hasn’t reached that level yet. “All my gear is clean on game day,” Chambers mentions. He will always sing along to the national anthem, which is what lets Chambers know it’s time to play. Prior to every kickoff during the football season, he would also pray with running back Damari Hamilton (‘23). In lacrosse, right before the opening face-off, Chambers gathers all the starters together and shares a couple of words before taking the field. 

Senior Ethan Glassman(‘23) is in his second year as a captain of the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team. Just like lacrosse and football, Glassman and the team watch a fair amount of film. “Coach Carver does a great job making clips for us to watch that show us our opponents offensive plays and their different types of defenses,” Glassman reports. “He also gives us keys to every game that are heavily emphasized throughout our preparation for each opponent”. To warm up, the team runs through a routine of static and dynamic stretches and then a series of drills that include defensive slides, passing, layups, and jump shots to keep them moving and ready for tip-off. 

No matter whether the team is at home or on the road, preparation mostly remains the same. However, playing at home gives them an additional chance to shoot around and walkthrough plays right after school before the other team arrives and everyone starts warming up. Occasionally the team will eat chicken and pasta from Village as a pre-game meal. When playing on the road, they must prepare mentally to play in front of an opposing student section and block out the noise. 

One thing that is unique to basketball and requires a lot of mental focus is the free throw. Not often in team sports are you the only one on the court doing something. Many basketball players have free throw routines to get that feeling of repetition and to stay composed. Glassman’s routine is simply taking three dribbles with his right hand, the same routine that he’s had since he was younger. “It makes me feel much more comfortable and confident when I’m at the line ready to shoot my free throws,” Glassman adds. 

High school athletes have a lot of things to think about off the field or court, making these pregame routines and rituals so important. They have to deal with school work, whatever happened throughout the day, and so much more. To be a successful athlete, the second you step onto the stage you have to be able to block out everything outside of the lines. Routine is one way many athletes and teams are able to get into that zone. Once the game begins, nothing else can be buzzing in your mind except victory.