Sunday, November 9, 2008

Calling all Coaches - Your Brightest and Best Athletes Need You

Are you frustrated with the results of your brightest and best athletes?

Do you wonder why they can show flashes of brilliance and then choke, in the most crucial of times? Or the most unlikely of times?

It's your job to find out. It's not your job to "fix" these mental lapses. But it's essential you know that mental skills training is available and powerful in its results. You owe it to your athletes to give them all they need to be successful. It's what you want.

Being an athletic coach is an amazing job. You're involved in the sport you have always loved and most likely played yourself. You get to work with other athletes who hold the same passion you do. You also are responsible for shaping and leading younger minds than yours. You are responsible for not just honing their skills as an athlete but also motivating them to play above and beyond their optimal ability in every situation imaginable. It's a tall order. If you take your job seriously, it's not easy. And it is amazingly rewarding.

There's always an expectation for the brightest and best athletes. After all, they've been performing above and beyond all the rest since grade school. They have had advantageous training that other athletes could only hope to get . . . the camps, special clinics, private lessons from top coaches. And then the expectations begin to really rise. Now there is just not the pressure of "having a good game" but to get that college scholarship. Not just any college scholarship, but the scholarship. And after the scholarship is the pressure to prove yourself worthy of it - to hold your own while playing in the big pond.

One can argue that the high expectations, the expectation of success, could, in fact, help create the success. We've known for a very long time that when you expect good , you get good. The self fulfilling prophecy. And we particularly know with our new research in how thoughts create reality, that when the athlete's own thoughts are aligned with success, success naturally follows.

For many athletes, however, the expectation is one they unconsciously resist. They "blow it" for a few holes in golf, or the 3rd quarter of the basketball game, or begin to lose their serve and have no idea what's going on for themselves. This is where more coaching can't help, but some astute attention to the mental gymnastics of the athlete can turn things around.

In today's world of competitive sports it is essential to be a coach who understands that his athletes need coaching with the mental side of the game as much as they need more practice on the physical skills of the sport. The saying, "You don't know what you don't know" really applies here. I often find this true in the area of coaches with their athletes. Many coaches think the answer to a game played poorly or to a match that never should have been lost, is to just practice harder and longer. It just is not so. In fact, it can do more harm.

The tennis star didn't start to lose his serve because he didn't know how to serve anymore. . . or that she was tired. But there could have been several sneaky thoughts running through this athlete's unconscious that were not only distracting, but downright took the wind out of this player's sails. The list of blocking thoughts are endless. We'll go over several specific examples of them in an upcoming blog - stay tuned! Your brightest and best need you to know!

No comments: