Mental skills training is a relatively new discipline, having been popularized in the last 25 years or so. It has been around for much longer, but without a name or a brand attached to it. When working with teams and individuals I often ask the question, “What percentage of your game is psychological?” To this question, most – if not all – performers agree that there is a mental component to their craft that deserves considerable attention, yet all too often there is only a small percentage of practice devoted to mental skills. I was recently thinking about this phenomenon and the reasons behind it.
Phil Niemela shares how coaches can embody their own message by focusing on the process of coaching.
Do you feel as though you are not enjoying coaching as much as you thought you would, or once did? Do you feel pressure for your team to perform perfectly every game? Are you worried that your fans and parents are upset with your coaching?
If you have these feelings (or similar ones) you are not alone, and the good news is that there is a remedy – not a quick fix, but a solution none the less. A popular phrase coaches like to tell their players is “focus on the process”. This phrase is powerful and can help athletes stay engaged during the process of training on a daily basis. It also helps athletes focus on their responsibilities and what they can control during practice and game situations. It provides athletes an outlet to let go of their obsession with immediate results, and instills the belief that if they put in the effort and have a positive, productive attitude, the desired results will eventually come. Being able to focus on the process is a beneficial skill for athletes to acquire, but they are not the only ones who can benefit from it. As the sender of this message, coaches can make the phrase more meaningful and powerful by embodying it themselves.
The process of coaching may seem to be unclear. It is hardly ever talked about (I’m actually thinking that I made it up for this post) but there is a process of coaching. There are things that coaches can do on a daily basis that will help them enjoy coaching more, ease the perceived pressure and worries. Below I have a list of six aspects that coaches can practice every day that make up the process of coaching.
Coaches constantly send messages to their players, school, and community that shape the culture of their team/program. The clearer a coach is on the messages they send, the more effective those messages will be, and the more control they will have on their culture. Decide what you value and communicate it every day to the people in and around your program.
Here is a list of 20 messages I have seen and heard from successful coaches regarding shaping team culture:
March Madness is upon us! The excitement of postseason tournaments invigorates a nation emerging from yet another winter season. Elite teams put their final touches on an envious regular season, while others scrap for a postseason opportunity. The nation eagerly awaits for Cinderellas to dance as giants fall. The purpose of a regular season is unclear, if not fully forgotten. National rankings become irrelevant, and tournament seeds are no guarantee to success. So why did we have to wait for all this excitement? The truth is, March itself didn’t create the madness. It’s a result of a process.
As you are probably well aware, there is only so much information that our brains can process before mental fatigue inevitably sets in. This often happens when we try to do or think about too many things over a prolonged period of time. Mental fatigue occurs when we exceed our limited stores of mental capacity, or what I like to call “mental energy.” We spend mental energy every time we use our brains to process information, an example being when we are deep in thought or completing complex tasks.
The ability to manage thoughts, process information and think critically is an important predictor of success in most performance domains. Unfortunately, when our mental energy is drained, cognitive performance suffers, as does our ability to complete tasks effectively and efficiently.
Often, during athletic competition and other performance scenarios, we do not spend enough of our limited mental energy on things that actually benefit our performance. Take a moment now to think about what you spend mental energy on before an important competitive event (examples being an athletic competition, job interview, or business proposal)…