Why Train Mentally?
I was asked the other day and not for the first time why do mental training? I have been an advocate for mental skills training for over three decades. I think everyone should do mental training and working with someone like myself can help give every athlete a new set of tools or even one tool that will help them get to a new level of performance. I have worked with beginners to world champions and everyone finds something that is useful to them. But the question of why train mentally is still often asked, so I thought I would address it here today.
The usual questions start with how does mental training help athletes perform at a higher level. Generally, before I can answer that question the person will ask; will it help me deal with ___________________? There is a long list usually dealing with fear or anxiety. The answer is yes it will help and in so many other areas as well. Usually people will ask about a certain area.
What to work on?
In general I usually work with athletes on some form of the things I have listed. If you are astute, the thing you will notice is that I have listed a combination of training techniques and issues. I’ve done this because over the years I have found that people tend to think about sport psychology in both terms issues and techniques. An example is relaxation training. Athletes may want to learn how to deal with stress and the easiest way for them to talk about it is they want to learn to relax. Whatever way you want to think about is OK. What I want you to understand is that regardless of how you think about sport psychology and mental training, you need these tools. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, and I have worked with world champions, this is an area that you can improve and help yourself get to the next level.
I was working with a national level athlete and their issue was focus. So we start working on exercises that will help them focus better. Through our discussions, I come to understand that the main issue really is fear of success. The athlete knew that, but it was far easier to work on concentration than to deal with fear. We soon got to the real issue and the skill sets were easily learned and he was able to move forward.
One quick story
I worked with a very talented college player. He played at a good college. He is as good a player in his sport that I have worked with at the college level. His plan was two more years and then hopefully a career as a professional athlete. After a summer of work and a good start to college season he was informed that he should find an agent as he was going to be offered a contract (allowable in his sport) as soon as the season finished. He lacks nothing physically. He has skill, speed, endurance and intelligence. He was only being held back by something small. A short body of work learning some new mental skills and working through a small issue and “BAM” he’s a professional athlete, now rather than later and fulfilling his dreams.
I won’t tell you it is that easy for everyone. But I will tell you everyone is capable of playing better. Just think what it would be like to be just 5% or 10% better than you are today. How much practice at the range or in the gym do you need to make that kind of improvement? I have listed just a few areas for your consideration. If you want or need any help in these (or any other) areas, then give mental training a shot.
Would you like to learn more about mental training? We are going to be conducting free online webinars in May and June. Email Mike at [email protected] for a schedule. Also talk with your club and we will be happy to schedule either an online webinar just for your club or if you belong to a club in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we can schedule a seminar or presentation with your club. Just ask! We are doing a free seminar for one of the Clubs this week because someone asked! Just ask and we will be there.