Science behind finals coaching
They have helped guide their teams into the 2015 Telstra Premiership Finals Series but former Panthers and Warriors coach Matt Elliott says the eight remaining NRL coaches must now focus the energies of their players in the right direction.
Every player that has spoken to the media this week has talked about the extra spring in their step, a rise in energy levels and an excitement at being involved in the very best part of the season.
Such talk is music to the ears of coaches who have seen their men endure a tough 26-round season but Elliott says in the Finals Week One issue of Big League that how they manage that extra energy is critical to their performance.
"Coaches that have been consistently successful in the month of September have a knack of getting that energy to peak on game-day whilst keeping their teams relaxed both physically and mentally during the week," Elliott says in this week's Big League.
"One of the key methods in building this energy is to keep all training sessions short and sharp with the high tempo of semi-final football as the underlying beat, almost to the point where players are surprised that practice is over.
"This allows for complete mental focus and high physical output, with the result being an expectation across the team that execution is spot on and every single player puts everything into each session."
In addition to ensuring they are in peak physical shape for what will be a sudden-death game for half the teams taking part this weekend, Elliott says the mental focus is perhaps even more crucial to limiting any wasted energy.
Whether it's time away from the group or more group activities away from the training paddock, Elliott believes it is important to get that balance right. And he had one further word of advice: Don't believe everything you read.
"The other factor is to ensure that the increased media attention doesn't become a distraction as the number of teams reduces each week the attention on teams and individuals ratchets up," he says.
"Add to this the new phenomena of social media and players can become far too absorbed by stories and reports around upcoming games.
"While it's impossible to tell players not to read reports, it's vital they are aware that paying too much attention to media isn't a productive part of preparation.
"Another part of the de-cluttering process is to ensure players spend the right amount of time away from training, thinking about their upcoming performance and not over-thinking what needs to be done.
"Some individuals are so keen to play their best that by the time the game arrives they've burnt so much emotional and mental energy that they're already low on juice."
The Finals Week One issue of Big League is on sale now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version also available via Zinio.