If Hikaru no Go has taught me anything, it's that focus and attitude are extremely important in go.
Aside from practicing, learning to stay positive was one of the most important things I learned as a novice. My longest losing streak -- once I got my 50 losses out of the way -- was ten games. At one point I thought about ditching the game and finding something else to do. But I kept with it, and I'm glad I did.
Now when I play, I approach the goban with a fierce attitude and a fighting spirit. I used to be scared of fighting, because I was no good at it. But due to intense practice, I got better and now I love to fight. This is very useful when I encounter an opponent who runs away from a fight.
Of course, it's possible to become proud and make stupid mistakes because you think you're invincible -- I've been guilty of this on many occasions. The key, I think, is being able to balance self-confidence with humility.
Does anyone find that they take a few games to sort of "warm up"? I'm a beginner player (somewhere in the 20's) and have definitely noticed that if I'm not in the right mental framework, it doesn't matter what I do with the stones, I will have a 'lost' feeling. I've tried to start with a quick 9x9 and see how it's going, then go for a 13x13 to sort of check my feeling with the larger game moves, and then I feel like I'm ready for a full game.
It's sort of like doing warm-ups before running. Does anyone else have a 'warm-up' routine, either physical, or mental before beginning?
If I feel the need to warm up (the morning of a tournament for example), I'll usually do some tsumego or play through the opening of a professional game. It's better if the warming up can be done even when your opponent isn't there, or when you can't convince someone else to break their own focus with some exercises for your benefit. -- Bignose
Vincent: Don't forget the mind/body connection. Before a game I like to take a brisk 10 minute walk. I find it helps me to relax and think clearly.
Before any real games, I do solve some tsumego and maybe review some games. This helps me to pickup flow of the game and remember other essential things too. -- Gasokai