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3 Things A Sports Psychologist Will Never Tell You

blog Nov 29, 2016

The mind is an incredible thing. It can be complicated and frustrating, it can amaze you and disappoint you. It can limit you or allow unbelievable things to happen. But mostly, it can be unpredictable, in good ways and bad.

I’ve been working as a mental training coach for almost 10 years now and I’ve seen some pretty magical moments with the coaches and athletes I’ve worked with. Witnessing a mind change and shift in an instant is something that never gets old.

There is nothing quite as gratifying as watching a young athlete realize that they don’t actually have to stay in the self-imposed negative space they’ve built up. When they understand that their outlook and mindset is a CHOICE, it’s like a lighting bolt. You can actually see their whole body shift- they walk a little taller, relax a little more, breathe a little deeper, and sometimes, sometimes, there is even a little hint of a smile.

It’s pretty awesome, not because they’ll be scoring more points or winning more races or getting more scholarship offers, but because their life just changed.

And I’m not gonna lie, it makes me feel pretty good too. But it’s important to note, if only to myself, that I don’t have a magic wand. This shift is available to anyone at anytime. You don’t need a sports psychology degree (I don’t have one myself) and you don’t need complicated or expensive trainings material.

You just need to decide to do it.

But I know for coaches that are busy (i.e. all of you) it can feel overwhelming to think of mental training. Maybe you think you can’t afford it, or you don’t have time, or it just feels like one more thing to do or you don’t even know where to begin.

So today, I want to share with you 3 things (that you won’t hear from a sport psychologist or mental training coach) that just might make you realize that the mindset shift you are looking for in your athletes is closer than you think:

  1. The Placebo Effect is REAL

Of course it matters WHAT you teach your athletes and how often, but I have to say that a significant shift happens when a team decides that they are going to train their mind. Once they take on that identity, they start BELIEVING they are more mentally tough. It’s not entirely a placebo but it’s close- teams that work on their mental toughness, believe they are more mentally tough, and therefore act that way (in the closing seconds of a close game for instance). Turns out that simply believing you are more mentally tough than your opponent actually matters.

  1. Change happens slowly and then all at once.

It’s entirely possible that everything I teach has been said before, by you, in front of your team. I can’t tell you how many times I work with a team and the coach says ‘But Lindsey, I’ve been telling them that for years, why do they finally listen when you say it?” To which I respond, “Because I have a magic wand.” (just kidding! I'm just making sure you are paying attention).

But seriously, sometimes it takes another voice, put in another way, and the lighting bolt hits. Or it takes the same message, put in video format to finally get through to them. I can’t explain it, but sometimes it just sinks in in a single moment. Regardless, my point is this: You never know when the message you have been trying to get across is finally going to get through. Keep putting in the work.

  1. It’s like stretching

Mental training is like stretching, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or intensive or expensive but you are going to see more gains if it is consistent and structured.  It can be you, with some visualization exercises before practice, or weekly mental huddle workshops, or simply setting aside some time every day or every week that is dedicated to the mind. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it should be thought out and organized. After all, to believe you are more mentally tough than the other team is more likely if the mental training program feels like it's been thought out and tested. Throwing things over the wall is not going to get the same results and you'll probably stop doing it anyway because you'll have no way of knowing what works.

So there you have it, don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a huge budget or excess time. Almost no one does. Start with SOMETHING, even if it’s just a pre-practice visualization with your team (Get our BRAVR Method to use with your team- it's one of our most popular). Or if you want a complete breakdown of our trainings and some more ideas on how to implement a plan you can find that here: How to Implement a Mental Training Plan (Even If You Have $0.00 Budget).

 


Ready to start training the mental game?

Get your FREE copy of the Coaches Cheat Sheet: Top 7 Ways to Develop Tough, Focused, Resilient Athletes!  

The Coaches Cheat Sheet uses visualization, positive self-talk, breathing, and mindfulness to help coaches get their athletes’ head in the game once and for all. 

This is simple enough to be a great starting point for coaches who want to begin mental training their team, and robust enough to be a great addition to any existing mental training program. 

Get your free copy here>> https://www.positiveperformancetraining.com/coaches-cheat-sheet-1

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