How do professional athletes perform at such high levels? Natural ability plays a major roll and physical training is essential, but there's also a mental component. Michael Jordan wouldn't have hit clutch shots if he were overcome with anxiety, and Ray Lewis wouldn't have made so many memorable tackles if he weren't so hyped up. Elite athletes know how to prepare themselves to compete at the outer fringes of their ability, and their pre-game strategies are more defined by what works than by what makes sense. Some football players do yoga while others eat cookies – but both players are following a system that yields results for them.
Here's how some of the all-time greats prepared themselves to succeed at a high level. It's only crazy if it doesn't work.
When you think of a 6-foot-4, 258-pound man preparing to play football, you probably picture a lot of growling and game faces in the mirror. Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher's pregame routine might have surprised you. On game days, the eight-time Pro Bowler relaxed with country music and chocolate chip cookies. Could this work for you? Maybe, but don't spend too much time near the cookie jar – Urlacher ate exactly two cookies before playing.
Credit: David Banks / Getty Images