Avoiding Overthinking During Tournament Play

An important part of playing in tournaments is keeping the proper and clear mindset. Among many things that can prevent such a mindset, overthinking (also known as rumination) during a tournament can cloud in-game judgement and prevent the player from optimal play. The keys to avoiding this mental pitfall during tournaments are to reduce mental strain during game play and to reduce unhealthy self-assessment during the course of game play. Here are some tips for working toward this:

  • Practice before tournaments. Playing the deck before the tournament allows the player to properly understand the cards and play style of the deck ahead of time. Although this seems minor, playing the deck until it becomes second nature will lessen the mental effort during the course of tournaments played with the deck.
  • Answer questions before the tournament. If the player has questions about the deck that he or she is playing, rulings surrounding play, or other in-game information, the player should try to find answers to such questions before the tournament begins in an effort to reduce mental strain during a tournament.
  • Focus on the game at hand. Worrying about past mistakes in the tournament or deck choice during the course of the tournament will not help once the tournament has started. When in a game, it is best for the player to focus on the game(s) that is happening in the moment.
  • Break down difficult decisions*. If there is a decision in front of the player that is hard for the player, he or she can break down the decision and its ramifications into smaller pieces in relation to facts that the player knows (e.g. cards in hand, units on the board, etc.). The process of breaking down the decision helps the player digest a flood of thoughts and prevent being overwhelmed during the course of game play.
  • When all else fails, choose and act*. When stuck between decisions and the player recognizes that he or she cannot make up one’s mind in the moment after considering the game board, it is better to make one of the decisions in front of him or her instead of making no decision at all. The reason for this suggestion is to act and keep moving forward during game play. After a situation like this, access whether the decision was good or bad after the tournament and learn from the situation in future games and tournaments.
  • Enjoy the game**. Sometimes the best medicine for overthinking is to distract oneself by enjoying the game that he or she is playing. Games are meant to be fun, so go and enjoy them!

I hope this helped! If you have any questions or comments, please provide them in the comments section.


* https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2015/03/20/how-to-overcome-the-analysis-paralysis-of-decision-making/#e6f8b421be5a

** https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/habits-not-hacks/201503/how-over-thinking-kills-your-performance

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