As a coach it’s important to not only teach the physical skills of the game but also to provide mental training for athletes.
Mental training for athletes can have a huge impact on their success in sports and in life.
I recently read an article by Jack Lesyk from the Ohio Center for Sport Psychology and found it very interesting and I am going to do two articles regarding this.
This article with focus on the skills of successful athletes.
The second one will discuss Dr. Lesyk’s performance pyramid.
In these two articles you will learn about mental training for athletes and how to prepare for your sport.
Here’s my take on Dr. Lesyk’s 9 mental skills.
The Nine Mental Skills of Successful Athletes
1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude.
In the first skill “Choose and maintain a positive attitude.’ it is imperative to recognize the key word in this statement; “Choose”.
We all have the ability to make choices in our day.
By getting up in the morning and choosing to have a positive attitude will make your workouts, your struggles, your daily routine much more productive and with this attitude you will enjoy your tasks much more.
Athletes do much better when they are enjoying what they do than those that force themselves to do it.
Why is being coachable such an important trait to have? Is this something learned or do we just have it?
One thing we know for sure…
Being coachable is necessary for success.
Our caretakers (moms, dads, uncles, aunts, grandmas and grandpas, teachers, coaches etc.) are the ones that usually dictate how coachable we are.
If we had caretakers that themselves were coachable, the chances are we will follow their example.
What do uncoachable athletes look like?
Athletes that struggle with being coachable tend to be the ones that are looking at the mistakes of the team.
They complain a lot about things out of their control such as referees, leaders on teams, coaches and organizations, other teams and how they look or perform.
Athletes who do not understand being coachable will be the ones that don’t comply with the team’s direction because they feel they have a better way.
All of their focus in on themselves.
When they face adversity they look to blame rather than take responsibility.
What do coachable athletes look like?
Athlete who understand being coachable tend to look at their own roles and see where they could improve.
They work hard at finding a way to perform better for their team.
Even though they may disagree with others, they look at what they can do to help the team become better.
They put the team first and understand that the team’s success will help create individual success.
They are athletes that spend more time working than complaining.
They understand that adversity is part of the game and they actually look forward to finding ways to overcome adversity.
Players who are coachable also have a greater potential to be a leader.
The ability to learn from other leaders is how we become leaders ourselves.
Even if we do not desire a leadership position we can be the leaders on the team that show up, work hard and lead by example.
This type of leaders are very common on championship teams and they have the respect of all those around them.
Many great teams have the ability to go through really tough times early in the season and then towards the end they go on runs to win championships.
Being coachable during the tough adverse times is so important to success of the season as a whole.
Compassion and Coachability
For the above reasons I am convinced that nothing will set a coachable person or a leader apart more than being compelled by compassion.
When we are compassionate towards others we will open our minds to understanding big pictures (the entire season).
When we are into our self wants, we tend to only see what is right in front of us (small picture).
In our seasons we will face many adversities and if we are looking at the small picture it is much more difficult to overcome adversity.
Compassion is seeing what others see, hearing what others hear, and feeling what others feel.
When we are willing to enter into another person’s life and into their pain, we are able to be moved with compassion.
Compassion does not eliminate the importance of other great traits of leadership.
We should strive to influence all elements of our leadership with compassion:
Confidence with compassion
Competence with compassion
Authority with compassion
Intensity with compassion
Follow-through with compassion
Due diligence with compassion
Leading with compassion
Today, ask yourself to see, hear, and speak with compassion.
Learn to grow and develop so that you will have compassion toward those we encounter. Learn to hold compassion as an influence in all aspects of leadership.
4 Characteristics of a Leader Who is Growing in Their Teachability
Ongoing Humility: Many times, our own mistakes move us to great humility. The world calls it weakness, but it is authentic strength.
Learning to Learn: Growing in teachability involves us learning to learn from our authentic self as well as others. The result is that we will become wiser the longer we live.
Gaining Wisdom: We discover wisdom from paying attention to who we are, meditate upon it, and practice our learning skills. When we do this, our future is limitless and our hope abounds.
Growing Daily: Remember to use your time wisely to focus on who and what kind of person you are meant to be. Other people’s mistakes as well as successes can help shape the vision that comes from your heart.
If your desire is to become a great athlete we challenge you need to spend time learning to become coachable.
If you had caretakers that were not coachable people that does not mean you can not become coachable.
It takes practice, energy towards learning, and practice.
Did I mention practice?
Yes, I think I did and this is so important in changing your viewpoints as well as your behavior.
Great athletes learn and grow and use practice to better themselves.
The beauty of us having free will is that we have the opportunity on a daily basis to change our behavior and to learn from mistakes.
Being coachable will help you not only in sports but will help you in your career and relationships.
Take time to learn and if you need to ask Steve or I any questions please do not hesitate to ask or comment.
Coaching kids is a not easy. There are always challenges.
Many times we see things in a different perspective than the coaches on the field.
I know for me there are times that I think I know more than a coach and I watch how they deal with my child and I get very frustrated.
SO WHAT DO I DO BESIDES SCREAMING, YELLING, OR SETTING UP A MUTINY?
In the article by Jim Thompson at PositiveCoach.org, he recommends becoming a second goal parent. So unless there is harm to the players I recommend practicing this technique.
He states, “You are not the coach. You are not the athlete. You are a supporting player in this drama, so act your part and move to the background.”
You are there for one reason and that is to support your child. This what he means by being a second goal parent.
In life many times there will be take overs or changes at a job and you may find yourself not agreeing with the direction of the company or leadership.
You have two choices. Work with what you have or work against it.
If you choose the latter many times you will find yourself exhausted, frustrated, wanting to quit or find another job.
This is similar to situations that I have seen parents get into with coaches.
Parents fight with the coach and then their son or daughter may follow your lead and put up a struggle, instead of being a positive leader to the others.
Because the parents fought with the coach, their child many times end up not getting as much playing time as they deserve or I have experienced and seen them get passed over for captain their senior year because of your behavior.
As an adult we have to make decisions.
The more mature or practiced we are at dealing with conflict, the more prepared we will be to help our young athletes deal with conflict.
They will learn how to be better players because of your support and many times find that they spend their energy finding ways to be better instead of finding more ways to complain or find fault in the coach.
If you play long enough you realize the difference between a really good coach who is there for the athletes and a blowhard who is coaching for their own agenda.
I have been blessed to have some very good coaches in my life. I have played for and coached with some great coaches as well.
I have also been frustrated with some coaches that were not so good at coaching myself or other kids.
Looking back on my days as a player and coach I have very few regrets. There is one thing that I would have done differently when I had one of those “not so good coaches”.
I would have worked on myself more and focused on what I could do better each day. I know I would have been a better player and coach had I done that.
Trust me, now that I have two daughters that are starting to play sports more seriously I know that I am going to be tested on this many times.
I am going to do more reading and studying on this topic myself because I do know that it is important to support your young athlete!
It’s also important for me to continue learning as I am coaching kids.
Being a Second Goal Parent makes a lot of sense to me.
Suggestions that I am making for myself and you can try as well:
Get a support group of parents and lead them with the Second Goal Parent concept. When you have more people on your side at games and practices it will make it easier.
Find articles on positive parenting for your athlete. There are many great reads out there. One of my favorites of all time is “Wooden A Lifetime OF Observations and Reflections ON and Off the Court”
Here are a couple quotes from that book for you to ponder:
Six of Life’s Puzzlers
Why is it easier to criticize than to compliment?
Why is it easier to give others blame than to give them credit?
Why is it that so many who are quick to make suggestions find it so difficult to make decisions?
Why can’t we realize that it only weakens those we want to help when we do things for them that they should do for themselves?
Why is it so much easier to allow emotions rather than reason to control our decisions?
Why does the person with the least to say usually take the longest to say it?
Parents, Children, and Goals
“A parent can help direct a child when it comes to goals. Show leadership. Show discipline. Show industriousness. Have traditional values. The person you are is the person your child will become.”
Commend, Don’t Criticize
“When a child does something well, commendation is a powerful tool. One of the most powerful motivating tools you can use is the pat on the back. Yes, occasionally the pat must be a little lower and a little harder, but too often parents neglect the praise. They are quick to criticize and slow to commend.”
Realize that the season is a short time in your athletes life. If you are an athlete yourself you can remember back on great seasons hopefully, as well as not so great seasons. We tend to remember those not so good seasons as learning lessons. Help your athlete make the most of bad situations because if you are honest with yourself there will be more seasons that do not go as you would hope.
If it all fails then you can make a decision to confront the coach or go above the coach but use this as a very last resort and please ask your Athletes feelings on you doing this. The last thing that you want to do is embarrass or turn your athlete away from you. Be his or her best advocate and lead by example. I have made a commitment to myself that I will do everything in my power to support first and exhaust all resources that I can find prior to making a decision to confront and once you have made this decision then make sure that you are able to do it without being angry. Use your anger to do the research and to find the people that can help you learn and understand how powerful it is to be a support and not control your athletes game. I am betting that if you really put forth this type of effort you will come to realize that this is not an option to use.
Again from Wooden…
Six Ways to Bring Out the Best in People
1. Keep courtesy and consideration for others foremost in your mind, at home and away.
2. Try to have fun without trying to be funny.
3. While you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you react. Make good manners an automatic reaction.
4. Seek individual opportunities to offer a genuine compliment.
5. Remember that sincerity, optimism, and enthusiasm are more welcome than sarcasm, pessimism, and laziness.”
6. Laugh with others, never at them.
Once again, coaching kids is not easy.
You as a parent have a very important role to play.
Just remember that is a supporting role not the lead.
A strong, balanced core supports the body’s structure, enabling you to execute a skill consistently, powerfully and safely. But to develop the strength to do so, you’ve got to train your entire core, including crucially important, lesser-known muscles.
The abdominal muscles are only one part of the core. The others are the obliques, low back extensors, hips flexors and glutes. All of these areas function together to efficiently transfer force between the upper and lower body.
If your core is weak, your lower or upper body can’t efficiently transfer force. And your body will attempt to compensate with extra movement, resulting in loss of balance.
– Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK.com and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS)