Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think about one of your earliest memories of basketball. Think of a time when you were a little girl or little boy playing on a playground by your house, shooting hoops with your dad or your sister or a neighborhood friend. Remember how much fun it was, how freeing it was, how you wanted to stay out there all day long.
That’s a small part of a guided visualization I do regularly with the athletes I work with. This simple, sort of silly paragraph of text can be enormously powerful. Whether these athletes are struggling with confidence, not having fun, unmotivated, or frustrated this exercise can often lock them into a positive mindset in the matter of a few minutes.
For coaches it’s important to do the same thing- lock into the love of why you do what you do. With all the stress and pressure college coaches deal with, getting back to the root of your motivation can help drive you forward in a healthy, positive way....
There’s a sink-or-swim mentality floating on athletes’ minds. There’s no question that, when competition time comes around, “Survival of the Fittest” accurately describes how athletes view the importance of the game and their involvement in it. Either they ‘get it’ or they don’t. Those who ‘swim’ come out proud, confident, and successful…
…but those who ‘sink’ suffer disappointment and embarrassment; if it’s really bad, they risk removal from the team. And, for the coach worried about the team's pool of talent, there’s rarely someone standing on the sidelines ready to replace the fallen soldier.
It only makes sense to give athletes the best training to optimize their potential and make it out of the game alive. And, if we want the best training method, we need to model it after the best-trained: the Navy SEALs.
Imagine you’re about to compete against a team you’ve played before. It was last season, and in the first few minutes you were up by so many points the game was already over. What a win that was.
Skip to this year: the same team but they have some new athletes. Though their stats aren’t as good as yours, they aren’t bad. On your worst day, they might have trouble beating you. Still… it could happen.
After all, that is why we play the game.
You look at your team. You’re worried. You get the feeling they’re not as focused as they should be, that they’re...
Envision a well-respected women’s program that wins an early exhibition game. They look good. They have a ton of talent. But the coach wants more: more focus, more toughness, more… something.
Like many college players, these young women have seen success. But they also struggle with self-confidence and self-doubt; they're unable to play through mistakes and suffer with an inconsistent pre-game routine. They become easily frustrated with themselves and can’t seem to stop letting their own minds mess them up. And all this even after winning by 40 points!
If you’ve ever experienced a similar situation, listen up, because Mental Performance Training is for you.
Now, let’s talk about how to get your players’ minds right.
I know I know. The kickers have been losing the games. They’ve also won quite a few but no one really wants to talk about that. If there is one thankless job in the world, it’s the football field goal kicker, especially an NFL one.
No I’m not asking you to feel sorry for them. I know they make a ton of money to do one thing right, I get it that this is irritating for the 99.999% of us that make way less money and have to do multiple things right. But let’s be clear: successful kicking isn’t always about kicking.
Let’s pick one thing that everyone does, something simple, seemingly easy with a bit of practice. Simple math. Let’s say everyday for a month you practiced solving (without a calculator) some timed math problems that changed everyday.
For example: 2+2x5 (-1) -6x8=X 9-5+(6x3)-4x2=X
Could you do it? Of course you could. They might look a little complicated at first glance but you’d practice. You’d get really good at...
Hopefully most of your athletes are highly motivated individuals. They’ve worked hard to get where they are and are willing to do the work to continue to be successful. You might have to occasionally help motivate them but for the most part, they work pretty hard. This is probably due to your recruiting approach and the culture around your program.
But occasionally, you’ll find an athlete that doesn’t have the need to be their best. They just show up. Most likely they are very talented, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it this far; probably for most of their life they have relied and thrived on talent alone.
Trying to motivate someone that doesn’t have internal motivation is exhausting and more importantly, it doesn’t really work long term. It makes you frustrated and it takes your focus away from other players and other responsibilities. So what is the solution?
Many people that don’t seem motivated are just scared to try. They’ve...
Sometimes what a program really needs is a total and complete culture change. Whether you are a new coaching staff trying to shift the mindset of your whole program, your whole athletic department, your whole university or you've been frustrated with a team that just accepts being mediocre and you need to shake things up, mental performance training just might be the missing link.
Positive Performance Training was honored to work with the University of Albany last year. They had an awesome brand new coaching staff –Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Fred Castro, Mary Grimes, Amber Metoyer, and Tahnee Balerio. They were PUMPED to be there, all winners in their own lives and ready to shake their players into a ‘take no prisoners attitude.’
But it's not always that easy. External motivation only works for so long, no coaching staff can ‘want it’ for their players: the PLAYERS had to believe. And at first, they didn’t. They were used to losing, they...
It’s truly a marvel of modern science that we have so many different ways to reduce injuries, minimize their effect, speed up recovery, rehabilitate after trauma and generally allow an athlete to compete with injuries that, even a decade ago, would have kept them on the sidelines.
In my own collegiate years, I used a variety of contraptions I’d never heard of before: a bone-growth stimulating machine, high-powered ultrasound, an automatic pressurized ankle boot, and a pocket-sized electric stimulation machine. I had customized orthotics, mouth guards, braces and one very confusing shoulder sling … custom made, of course.
Physically, I was more than taken care of, and I have no doubt that each one of those elaborate and costly contraptions helped me a great deal. I’m grateful for that. But psychologically, I had few resources to turn to when I was injured.
Teammates, coaches and trainers...
"Be mentally tough. Concentrate. You aren’t focusing. Get your mind right."
Everyone loves to TALK about mental game issues. Coaches, athletes, fans, media. Everyone wants to comment about the mental game aspects that are necessary for peak performance. But very few people actually know how to cultivate the mental skills that lead to enhanced performance.
We don’t expect to tell an athlete to get stronger, lose weight, shoot better, jump higher, get in better shape without telling them HOW to get there. If a coach tells an athlete that they need to get stronger to play better, they also point them to the strength coach so they have exercises to improve their strength. They just don’t tell them WHAT they need, they tell them HOW to get it.
But when it comes to mental skills, we assume everyone should get them (by magic?) or have them already (but deliberately don’t use them?). Everyone seems surprised when mental improvement isn’t automatic or blames the...
The thing about athletics is this: Everyone is watching. Whether you play professionally and on television or in your local golf tournament. Whether there are 15,000 people in the stands or 5, you are performing in public. This can add a great deal of pressure to a situation. No one really wants to let anyone else down or embarrass themselves. (Which is why public speaking is the #1 fear in America- ranked higher than death). And while that fear of embarrassment can be really uncomfortable, there actually is some biological reason for it. Our brain actually considers a ‘social death’ (i.e. complete and total embarrassment, rejection, public failure) comparable to real death because it could mean actually death. In primal terms, a ‘social death’ meant we were ostracized from the group that could protect us, the group that we depended on for survival. So some of this ‘fear’ is ingrained in us and some of it can be healthy and normal. It’s the...