The 9 key components to choosing a mental training program
We just completed a survey of 137 coaches and saw that the majority of teams don’t use a structured and consistent program. Instead, they rely on homegrown solutions, guest speakers, or books to guide them. These tools, while with their merits, rarely deliver meaningful and measurable long-term results.
While most coaches and athletes understand the importance of the mental game, it previously has been very difficult to implement a structured & comprehensive mental training program. It involved a lot of trial and error and often times required the coaches and organization to first learn and then develop a program. Doing so typically takes a few years to build and most organizations forgo this investment and suffer from under-performance issues, low confidence, and inconsistency in their teams and players.
Just like any other skill, mental training should be as structured and methodical as any type of physical training. It’s a simple equation, really:
Consistent Practice + Small Challenges = Visible Results
Improving your team’s overall performance can take as little as five minutes at the start of each practice. It’s easier to do than you might think. So before you go down the path of implementing mental training, here are the
9 Key Components of a Mental Training Program
- Commitment. Is your organization committed to improvement. Whether positivity or negativity, hope or hopelessness, your coaching staff sets the tone for the team’s playing mentality. That tone is the #1 factor in determining the benefits your athletes get from mental training. When coaches commit to a mental training plan, especially at the start, their team will follow.
- Structure. Athletes have enough chaos in their lives. A mental training program needs to be easy to understand and lay a clear path from start to finish.
- Start small, build big. Every great achievement begins with one step. Focus on small wins in order to build up momentum to tackle bigger goals. Our recommendation? Spend 5 minutes upfront on improving practices, before the real games begin.
- Be consistent. Your athletes warm up their muscles before a game, but do they regularly work on their minds? Training the brain is just like training the body, so make it something your athletes do consistently and for a given amount of time. Instill confidence and quash anxiety by establishing pre-competition routines, such as checklists, which help athletes know they are at their best and ready to go.
- Fix underlying issues, not symptoms. Addressing underlying issues is ultimately more time-effective than patching over problems. For instance, if you have a highly inconsistent player, focus on helping them be consistent through active preparation (like pre-game routines and settling their mental state through meditation rather than on trying to get them to be consistent through words of encouragement alone). Our recommendation? Focus on addressing issues from the inside out rather than the outside in.
- Make it measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t figure out if it works. Additionally, a measurable system provides another form of feedback and reinforces the training being done. Make sure the training program you choose offers ways to track your team’s and your individual athlete’s progress.
- Make it personal. Different athletes have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are stronger, some are slower, some have mastered specific techniques and others that still need work. Mental training is no different. Each athlete needs to understand where they, individually, need to improve most and how to work on that area.
- Easy for coaches. The mental training program you choose shouldn't have you wasting hours learning how to incorporate it, scheduling inconvenient sessions, making calls to ensure your athletes are doing the training, and charting progress by hand. Mental training must easily integrate into your existing coaching curriculum in order to be effective for both you AND your team.
- Easy for athletes. Can athletes do the training when they want? Do the program leverage technology to make it easier for athletes?
Positive Performance’s program is designed by coaches and athletes for coaches and athletes.
Winning is vital. So is mental training.
That's why our mission, like yours, is to empower young competitors and train their minds for success on the playing field and off. On average, our clients win 15% more games over the previous year and athletes report feeling more confident, more consistent, and empowered with the strength of their own minds.