Pregame routines keep Missouri women's basketball team focused

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | 7:45 p.m. CST; updated 8:39 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 13, 2011
MU senior Christine Flores passes the ball to her teammate during a game against North Florida on Nov. 20 at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA — Christine Flores has an unusual pregame routine.

After the Missouri women's basketball team shares a pregame meal in the Clinton Club at Mizzou Arena, Flores returns home, places a towel on the ground, sits on the floor and irons her hair with a clothes iron.

It's a trick she picked up from a friend she had in high school who had waist-length hair and didn’t have time to straighten it with a normal flat iron.

“It’s just easier and keeps your hair straight longer,” said Flores, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, who was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the second time this season after scoring 25 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and making 10 blocks Dec. 7 in a win against Eastern Illinois. 

The Tigers' coaches aren’t specific about what players should do before a game, but Flores said they want the players to be consistent in their routines.

Junior guard Sydney Crafton finds consistency in her attire. She won’t wear her jersey during warm-ups and instead waits to put it on until the team takes to the court to play. She also keeps a lucky penny she found at practice inside her left shoe.

Before games, Flores reads through scouting reports that the coaching staff compiled to accompany the film the team watches the day before the game. Flores writes notes in the margins as the team watches film and reviews those while she fixes her hair.

“My freshman and sophomore year, I had my little routines, but they weren’t as substantial as they are now,” Flores said.

Flores spends time focusing and mentally preparing herself for the upcoming game, something she didn’t spend near as much time doing until coach Robin Pingeton arrived. 

“Once Coach P got here, it kicked it up a whole other notch,” Flores said. “She wants us to be ready, focused, dialed in.”

The focus on consistency and mental preparedness seems to have benefited the Tigers, who have started their season with a 7-1 record. 

Before games, the team sets personal and collective goals that the players reflect on as a means of positive reinforcement and positive thinking before they go on the court. These goals often include a specific amount of points a player wants to score or a certain amount of rebounds they want to grab. Working together and never giving up are permanent goals for the team.

“A good chunk of basketball is mental," Flores said. "You have to turn around and know that you’re going to get the next steal or the next shot, so you don’t get down on yourself — so you’re able to have your mind right for the next play.”

Even in the locker room, players will choose songs from the same playlist to help get them excited, focused and ready for the game.

“Most of everything we do before every game is consistent because that’s really important to us,” Flores said. “It’s obviously gotten us to a better place this year, and it’s working, so we’re going to keep doing it.”

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