How the Stars of the WNBA Prepare for a Game

Routines, Rituals and Superstitions

December 6, 2004 - It definitely goes without saying that professional athletes are a rare breed. WNBA players are no exception. To compete against the best in women's basketball requires raw talent, practice and discipline. It also requires a competitive determination and mental focus. So how do the game's elite players get ready for a game? Perhaps it is a meal, for others a nap, while some even admit to getting dressed in exactly the same order every night.

Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
"I usually eat and then take a nap, take a shower. Then I say a prayer before the game. I don�t do anything too crazy. As far as music goes, I just try and switch it up."

Sheryl Swoopes and Sue Bird.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets
"I try to take a nap before every game � for about an hour. It really can�t be longer than that or else I am too tired to play. I�ll either set an alarm or get a wake-up call. I just try to meditate from the time I get up to when I get to the gym. I don�t really think about anything else other than my opponent and the game we are about to play. I like to listen to a song by Mary Mary. It�s called �Shackled.�

Swin Cash, Detroit Shock
"I will listen to my music in a certain order. Pretty much the same every time to get focused in a certain way."

Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
"I don�t like to be superstitious, so I try and do something different every game."

Shannon Johnson, San Antonio Silver Stars
"I like to listen to my music and get into a flow. I get into the slow music so I can relax and get my mind right. I don�t worry about anything going on around me. I just like to zone out. I listen to most of the time it�s just the popular songs that are out."

Anna DeForge, Phoenix Mercury
Not really. I�m not a big ritual person. My routine doesn�t change much, but there�s not much a ritual to it.
There�s a few, a few new ones. Definitely Usher�s �Yeah, Yeah� song, you hear that in about every arena, so that always gets you going.

Natalie Williams, Indiana Fever

Anna DeForge and Diana Taurasi
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
"I just try to visualize to get mentally prepared for what I need to do each and every night depends on what my team needs."

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
"I definitely nap before every game. Even if it is a noon game, I will wake up at 9, nap at 9:30 and then wake up and be ready to go."

Becky Hammon, New York Liberty
"No real pre-game deal. I stretch and drink a Coke. I really like the National Anthem, I like to use that as a time to focus. It�s a quiet time for me, to get things settled, get a proper perspective and then get a little prayer in there too."

Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
"I listen to music on my way to the game, which is when I first start to focus. Shootaround is key. Meal and naps are key, but I can�t give you all of my little secrets."

Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
"To be honest, I get focused for a game the day before that game. But if there is something that I do all the time, it would be my nap and my pre-shootaround snack. I always tie my shoe about three times before a jump ball."

Ruth Riley, Detroit Shock
Ruth Riley.
Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty Images
"Not so much any rituals, but there is the same routine � shootaround, lunch, nap, wake up, coffee, then go."

Katie Smith, Minnesota Lynx
"I don�t necessarily go into a zone, but I do think about simple things � the way I get dressed, my routine on the floor, what time I eat. Warming up before the game, I like to get some shots up and loosen up. Nothing really crazy, but I like to stick with the same basic timing. I don�t usually listen to my CD player before a game. I am not one of those people for whom music is a big thing."

Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
"I usually take a nap. And then I do things in the same order, not superstitions but more like rituals. And then I do my lipstick. That�s kinda of become my trademark. I like to wear that. With the music, I mix it up. This season, I listened to Jay-Z and Kanye West."

Cheryl Ford, Detroit Sting
"Just take a two hour nap before the game and I wear a red ponytail band. I also listen to rap before games."

Yolanda Griffith, Sacramento Monarchs
"I have my pre-game meal, then take a nap for about two hours. Just before the game, I start listening to certain music, R&B, just to get myself comfortable. The song varies on different days."