Mental strength coaching helps athletes and performers learn how to respond to adversity under pressure situations. Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova are just a few top athletes that have a high level of mental game strength when they compete.
What does a mental strength coach do for athletes and teams? A mental strength coach helps athletes improve mental game skills and mental toughness so they can perform at their peak performance or improve consistency.
Mental strength coaching helps athletes improve several mental game skills and perform consistently well. Below are the top eight mental game skills:
Coping with adversity such as athletic injury
One example of mental strength is how athletes respond to injury. Athletes respond to injury in various ways, but many experience overwhelming feelings of anger, fear and sadness. These athletes may also experience a great sense of loss if told they will be out for a long time. That feeling might be delayed or immediate depending the severity of injury. After talking with your doctor or surgeon, it’s common for those feelings to only become worse knowing that you have a long recovery ahead. For this reason, athletes must learn to separate the person from the athletic persona.
Performing well under competitive pressure
A hallmark of great athletes is the ability to perform consistently well under pressure. When the game is on the line, these athletes do not allow the expectations from teammates, coaches, and fans to derail them. Mental strength helps performers thrive under competitive situations. Mentally tough athletes elevate their performance when the game is on the line. We call these athletes gamers. They don’t choke, fold, or get scared under pressure. And this is a learned skill through experience, mental game skills, and a positive sport environment.
Managing high expectations from others
As athletes achieve greater success, expectations for performance also elevate. Having high expectations can hurt athletes’ confidence when they fail to reach them. Having high expectations means athletes feel more pressure to perform well. For example, expectations such as, “I must score 10 points every game” or “I shouldn’t make any mistakes,” cause athletes to worry about outcomes or results. Expectations are absolute needs or demands that athletes place on the quality of their performance or outcomes, such as, “My performance should look or feel perfect all the time.” These unwritten standards about how athletes think they SHOULD perform are often not rational. The problem is that these expectations cause athletes to constantly judge how well they’re performing or doing in a competition.
Focusing on the process instead of outcomes
Superior concentration is another characteristic of athletes with mental strength. Having a high level of concentration means that athletes have the ability to focus in the moment and on the correct performance cues that will help them perform. Likewise, good concentration also means coping with distractions. Focusing on the process means being present in the moment (the here and now), not the last play. To be in the zone, athletes focus in the moment, not the past or future. For example, when athletes dwell on a mistake, focus is split between the past and the next play. Also, thinking about future outcomes, such as, “I hope I don’t make a turnover” or “Don’t strike out” takes the focus away from the process during practice or competition.
Working to have a stable level of confidence
Self-confidence is how strongly you believe in your ability to execute any skill or task. Without a consistently high and stable level of confidence, you simply can’t perform at your best. High confidence improves athletes’ overall mental game strength. Confidence helps athletes let go of mistakes quicker, perform with less fear and stay calm and composed. Confidence develops over many years of practice and competition. It develops from past performance, success, training, preparation and mental toughness. Athletes gain confidence when they know they have the physical skills and talent to perform well in sport. Mental strength coaching helps athletes have stable confidence when they perform.
Learning to trust practice skills in competition
For mental strength, two mindsets help athletes reach their full potential. These are: (1) The practice mindset and (2) the trust or performance mindset. The practice mindset helps you improve your skills for competition. In a practice mindset during training, you strive to get better and to improve your game. You practice today to play better tomorrow. Alternatively, the performance mindset comes from motor memory or what you have already repeated in practiced. Here, you perform freely and intuitively by relying on memory instead of giving yourself verbal commands, such as “plant my foot, keep toe down, extend my leg, keep head down, etc.” Mental strength coaching helps you trust in your skills. Your performance flows without thinking about “how to” to perform.
Managing emotions after setbacks & mistakes
It’s likely that you’ve been upset, frustrated, or angry with yourself after making mistakes. Part of mental game strength is having high composure and responding well after mishaps, mistakes, poor calls by officials, or any other challenge. When athletes dwell on mistakes, their mind is stuck in the past. This leads to feeling frustrated and then having a split focus. When you can let go of mistakes quickly, one mistake doesn’t turn into more mistakes. What does a composed athlete look like? What are the characteristics of composure?
Please review the characteristics below:
- Head up, shoulders back
- Calm under pressure
- Not easily rattled
- Stays patient when behind
- Does not sulk or quit
- Accepts mistakes and moves on
- Relaxed disposition
- Performs to win
- Strong finisher in crunch-time
Improving consistency of performance with routines
A mental strength coach helps athletes develop preshot and pre-play routines. Routines help athletes mentally and physically prepare for a self-paced sports skill, such as a free throw, golf shot, serve, or pitch. A routine helps athletes have a focused mindset to improve consistency in performance. Routines are ideal for helping athletes apply many of the mental strength strategies, such as focusing, confidence, and trusting skills. The physical part of a routine is easy for most athletes to implement. For example, a routine might include bouncing the ball as you set up for a serve or free throw. The mental parts of a routine are the most important. Athletes mental routine includes the decision-making, confidence building, focusing, and trusting skills, which are critical for a strong mental game strength. Both the physical and mental components of a routine work together.
Summary of Mental Strength Coaching
Mental strength coaching helps athletes improve consistency and take their practice game to competition successfully. Athletes who lack mental strength are more likely to choke or fold in competition. Mentally strong athletes possess many skills to help them be successful, such as managing competitive pressure, concentration, proactive confidence, trust in their skills, and the ability to stay composed after mistakes and mishaps.
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Mental Training Success Stories
“He Finally Put It All Together”
“After your session, Mason had a game. He had the best game so far! He hustled, shot, no goals but two assists but he was cool with it because his focus was on shooting and not scoring (finally), defended well with his hands – finally put it all together. It was fun to watch and you could tell he felt really good about it.”*
~Kelly, Lacrosse mom
“I Had the Best Nationals I Have Ever Had.”
“Patrick, with your great instruction on the mental game, I had the best nationals I have ever had. And even more important, I got through the five days relaxed and had fun – a new concept in my life! The bottom line – I got five firsts and one second! Thank! You are just what I needed.”*
~Dennis O’Brien, swimmer
“We Had a Great Season and Finished 2nd in the State”
“Dr. Cohn, we had a great season. We finished second in the State Tournament. We scored 163 points, which is 11 more than we scored the year we won the state tournament. We had three individual state champs. We really improved our mental preparation in the post season. The kids bought in and really worked at it. We will definitely need you again next year. Hopefully, you can help us reach our goals next year.”*
~Coach Jim Bird, Head Coach Osceola High School
“He’s Soaring with Confidence Right Now”
“I want to thank you for the great work you are doing with Ty. He seems to be soaring with confidence right now. We are flying out to see him pitch next weekend. He threw well Friday night and is drawing a lot of interest from several Division I schools. I’ll let you know how he looks.”*
~Randy Sullivan, Baseball Parent
“We Are Already Seeing Results”
“Thanks again for teaching me how to do mental game coaching with my volleyball team. We are already seeing results for just our FIRST meeting! I really enjoyed out work together in Orlando!”*
~Kurt Trout, Iowa Rockets Volleyball Coach
“Dr. Cohn Help Me Get on The Podium”
“Your mental coaching has helped me be mentally prepared ready to go racing. To be a MX champion, your body and mind have to work together on the track. Dr Cohn helped me get on the podium even under tough circumstances and strengthen my mental game side of racing. I am ready to win this championship now.”*
~Max Anstie, Pro MX racer
“The Sessions Have Been So Helpful”
“The sessions have been so helpful. Dawson has been playing really well and more importantly feeling great about it all.”*
~Kecia Muller, Lacrosse Parent
*Testimonials found on this site are examples of what we have done for other clients, and what some of our clients have said about us. However, we cannot guarantee the results in any case. Your results may vary and every situation is different. No compensation was provided for these testimonials.