We’ve all heard the ancient axiom, “know thyself.” For athletes, this is a crucial component of mental toughness and consistent performance. How can you, as a coach, help your athletes develop a greater sense of self-awareness, especially in the moment?
Athletes face a lot of pressure in sports today. They feel pressure to play at a high level and to earn playing time and scholarships. They feel pressure to recoup the investment their parents have made in travel ball and specialized coaching. Unfortunately, many athletes don’t recognize where the pressure is coming from or how to handle it.
Athletes can have a short fuse. When the game doesn’t go their way they get frustrated. Unfortunately, this frustration gets taken out on opponents, teammates, fans, officials, and equipment in aggressive ways. Depending on the team, this may be okay. What isn’t acceptable is letting frustration degrade performance. Help your athletes keep their emotions in check to perform their best.
Coaches and athletes look for every legal edge over their competition. However, you may be putting too much emphasis on new innovations. Sleep is a foundation of human performance. It has the potential to fuel or wreck an athlete’s performance. It may not be flashy, but your athletes may not be getting the sleep they need to have an edge on and off the field.
Thoughts matter. Thoughts drive performance. An athlete’s thoughts direct her emotions, physical state, and behavior. Unfortunately, many athletes battle with counterproductive, discouraging thoughts – worries, doubts, and fears. Coaches can help athletes take control of their thoughts. Start by encouraging athletes to never say “don’t.”
Superteams load their rosters with high-dollar free agents in an attempt to win a single championship. They poach talent from their competition to tip the scales in their favor. However, the notion that you have to be a Superteam to win is a myth. In fact, most Superteams flop. A closer look at two recent victors reveals four secrets to their success.
Transitions are hard. Moving from the known to the unknown is scary. Yet the stats show that only 6% of high school athletes will play in college. Fewer than 0.5% of high school athletes will become professional athletes. Even if they do go pro, every athlete has to transition to life after sports one day. In working with Wounded Warriors over the years, I’ve learned that athletes can learn a lot from these resilient individuals.
Simone Biles, Olympic Gold Medal winning gymnast, said, “Practice creates confidence. Confidence empowers you.” She’s right. The problem is when an athlete can’t translate his or her performance in practice to the competition surface. This can frustrate coaches and baffle players. What is going on here?
Coaching is like parenting in that it’s largely based on past experiences. You may choose to copy the best coaches you’ve seen and do the opposite of the worst. Perhaps you’ve had some good mentors along the way. Regardless, many coaches tend to be either more supportive or more demanding. Which category do you align with? More importantly, which gets the best results?