Applying Mental Skills to Competition
Many athletes struggle with applying mental skill to competition. They understand mental game strategies well, but fail to use what they learn when performing. Mental skills, just like physical skills must be practiced to make them part of you. In this article, I’ll discuss how you can improve your success with applying mental skills to competition.
Here’s my model for applying mental skills: Education and Learning –> Practice and Repetition –> Application to Practice.
After you learn and understand mental game strategies, you’ll want to use them in practice. For example, if you are working on coping with distractions, you’ll want to practice refocusing or using the Three Rs in practice. Once you become proficient in practice with refocusing, you’ll be able to do it in competition easily.
How can you improve your learning so you can take it to practice? First, I suggest to my students that they review their mental strategies often. For example, you might read your refocus statements each day to make them well-learned and to remind yourself. Repetition is key here like anything else.
Many athletes have MP3 players. I do summaries for my students on audio or short podcasts they can use prior to practice and competition. This way, you can review what you know by audio as well as written materials.
Another option is to integrate your mental skills into your pregame and preshot routines. The pregame routine is an ideal time to review your mental strategies to help you focus, be confident, and trust in your skills prior to competition. The pregame routine is an excellent time to review your confidence resume to boost confidence or expel high expectations, for example.
If you play a self-paced sports such as tennis, golf, or pool, you can use preshot routines to help you apply your mental game strategies.
Preshot routines have many of the elements you’d want for a strong mental game, such as this routine for golf:
PLANNING – Select target and the type of shot you want to hit. Be specific and commit to plan.
IMAGE – See or feel the type of shot you selected in the plan. Make it real. Use the 3 C’s before you approach the ball: Clarity, Confidence, and Commitment.
REHEARSAL – Use a practice swing to feel the shot you want to hit. Don’t just take a mindless swing.
FOCUS – Stay focused on execution and the target/feel of the shot.
AIM/ALIGN – Aim clubface and set body parallel left of clubface.
TRUST – Focus on the target and let the image of the target or the feeling of a good swing trigger the swing.
In addition, you want to assess how you are doing with your mental game after each compeition as soft of a personal check up. You can use a journal of use a worksheet to help you assess how you did with certain mental skills you are working to improve. For my Tennis Confidence CD program, I offered worksheets players can use after each lesson. Here’s an example from one of the worksheets or post-match assessments on managing expectations:
Directions: Please answer the following questions based on the mental strategies you learned in Session One about managing expectations by using Process Goals in Tennis Confidence:
–What are two things you did well today with your mental game and performance?
–What are two things you would like to improve for the next match?
–What expectations, if any, did you have going into the today’s match that you were aware of?
–What were your process goals for today’s match or tournament?
–How well did you discard your expectations and replace with your small objectives or process goals?
–At what time did you start to protect your lead and allow a comfort zone to cause you to tighten up or play protectively?
–What did you learn about replacing your expectations with manageable process goals that you can apply to future tournaments?
Finally, you want to continue to assess and refine your mental game after each competition. You learn a new skill such as refocusing, apply it to practice, review it often, take it to competition, and then assess how well you did with your application of that skill. You then can make any modifications or tweaks to your well-learned mental skill.
Boost Your Self-Confidence With Mental Game Coaching!
Master mental game coach, Dr. Patrick Cohn, can help you or your athlete(s), ages 12 and up, overcome mental game issues with personal coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our students saying?
“WOW!!! What a week I had. I was able to perform with a confidence that allowed my style to shine through–no more entering the arena with that “deer in the headlights” look or feeling. I stopped evaluating myself while I was performing, and I actually left the arena after my patterns feeling like I had experienced a lot of fun. Thank you so much.”
~Julia Dreyer, National Champion Equestrian
For All Athletes – Learn Confidence-Boosting Techniques!
D you have a negative self-image of yourself as an athlete that stifles confidence?
No matter ow positive you try to be, are you unable to shake the doubt that rushes into your head when you size up your competition?
Have you labeled yourself as a loser, poor closer, or mediocre athlete and these labels keep you stuck in a rut of self-pity and indecision?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, check out The Confident Athlete!
The Confident Athlete CD and workbook program is a 14-day plan for ultimate self-confidence. This program is ideal for any athlete or coach that wants to discover proven confidence-boosting techniques guaranteed to drastically build self-confidence and improve sports performance.
Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Athlete Series…
What are customers saying?
“I first purchased The Confident Athlete to see how the program went and immediately saw results. I then purchased the rest of the confident athlete series and have noticed a dramatic improvement in my level of play or should I say consistency. I currently play NCAA Division 1 baseball for Lamar University, and even my coaches have noticed a change in the way that I approach the game. My attitude and confidence at the plate.”
~Tylor Prudhomme (Listen to his success story)
“I am a ASP world qualifying professional surfer and after beginning the ‘The Confident Athlete’ I had an almost instant change in attitude about my own surfing ability and my mindset going into competition. By using the Confident Athlete strategies, my confidence has done a complete 180 degrees. I won a local pro/am a few weeks back, and just had my best result of the year in one the last big events on the world circuit this last week in Brazil! It is my secret weapon!”
~Shaun Burrell, Professional Surfer (Listen to his success story)
For Young Athletes and Parents – Learn More About How to Help Kids Improve Confidence Quickly!
We’ve got a great program for you called “The Confident Sports Kid: A 7-Day Plan for Building Ultimate Self-Confidence.”
The Confident Sports Kid is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athlete’s performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!
The Confident Sports Kid is two programs in one. There’s a manual and CD for parents/coaches, and a workbook/CD for young athletes.
Packed with mental strategies that you and your kids can start using immediately, this program teaches your athletes how to identify confidence busters, proactively deal with them, manage expectations that undermine confidence, and mentally prepare to stay confident when faced with adversity.
What’s more, our program teaches you, as sports parents and coaches, how you may be hurting your kids’ confidence and gives you instructions for changing your behavior in ways that will improve your athletes’ performance, confidence and enjoyment.
Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Sports Kid Series…
What are parents and coaches saying about our program?
“I appreciate the advice to parents as to how to help your child become more mentally resilient to bullying in sports. The specific advice and scenarios are extremely helpful for any child on a team and very helpful in guiding parents, coaches and administrators in how to deal with bullying in sports. I cannot thank you enough for your input, and I am so reassured to know that there are people like you who are writing articles and doing interviews on such timely and important matters.”
“Dr. Patrick Cohn and Lisa Cohn are to be congratulated! Together, they offer a wealth of knowledge, information, and practical mental tools for sports parents on the substantial “mental game” challenges and pressures facing today’s young athletes.”
~Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach
For Mental Coaches – Add More Value To Your Mental Training Programs!
This workbook series was designed for coaches and mental coaches to use with their athletes.
The Athlete’s Mental Edge workbooks complement your existing mental training program. Each of the 15 workbooks in the Athlete’s Mental Edge System teaches your athletes a specific mental skill to improve their performance.
For mental coaches, this system is ideal for between session education.
For sports coaches, you’ll be able to conduct 15 team seminars using the workbook system.
In the Athlete’s Mental Edge workbook system, you receive 15 easy-to-read, practical Mental Edge Workbooks on PDF, as well as 16 coaches’ game plan MP3 audio files.
What are coaches saying?
“I am really pleased with the Athlete’s Mental Edge workbooks – they are fitting in really well with my coaching! I find they offer a great framework for doing workshop sessions. I have also used the workbooks with a few individual athletes – for the younger ones (12 and under). They are giving a good structure and framework to our sessions. The workbooks have worked well with all of them!”
~Kerri Morgan, Mental Game Coach
“I am impressed with the willingness and openness of Dr. Cohn to share all of his assets (intellectual, products, etc.) with the MGCP students. You have developed an incredible model/package for mental training. Even though we are paying for your service, you are passing on a legacy built on your contribution to the world of sports. Thank you for that.”
~Tony Melito, MGCP