A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Six ways to sell your athletes on mental training
Sometimes you may need to sell your athletes on the idea of mental training. They may feel the mental aspects of performance are not important.
Here are six points to sell your athletes on the importance of mental training:
1. Physical training alone will not free you from self-doubt and anxiety. You need to focus on something other than doubts or worry, especially at crucial moments when confidence and control over your situation are critical. You need to block out distractions. "Choking" is often the result of being distracted or thinking negatively. Mental training will help you overcome these problems.
2. Our thoughts direct our bodies. There are two types of thoughts. Conscious thoughts allow us to react as we wish. But subconscious thought can sometimes deter performance. Mental training will help you "think correctly."
3. Oftentimes we will be matched up against opponents who have equal physical abilities. But we will have the edge because of our sharper mental attitude and preparation.
4. Competition is stressful. Our ability to cope with stress depends on the skills we have developed. How many times have you heard about a team being defeated because they "just couldn't get it together" on a particular day. This requires mental training and preparation.
5. There will be times when we need to extend our limits. We will need to call on that "extra-reserve" in the closing minutes and push ourselves to the limit in order to catch up or stay ahead. This requires "mental toughness" to go beyond the fatigue of a very difficult situation.
6. You all have great performances you would like to repeat on a consistent basis. Mental training teaches you how to be consistent. George Allen once said that any one individual or team can have a great game or even a superb season but winning on a consistent basis is the measure of true champions.
Excerpted from the book: Championship Performance Coaching Volume 1: Legendary Coaching Wisdom on Leadership, Motivation and Practice Plans to Achieve Your Dream Season. Published by Championship Performance. www.championshipperform.com
Josh Wolff starred for the U.S. soccer team at the 2000 Summer Olympics and played in two World Cups. Use his insight to build youth teams that work together and support each other.
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