In The Power of Positive Leadership Jon Gordon wrote, “Optimism, positivity, and belief are the fuel that positive leaders need to keep moving forward and drive results.” Whether you agree or not, it is hard to deny that athletes play better when they’re having fun, enjoying the moment, and are surrounded by people they genuinely love.
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?
Optimal performance is all about consistency. Coaches and athletes know that repetitions build strength. That’s why you train. However, the same principles apply to getting an athlete’s mind and body ready to perform on demand. It is no accident that elite athletes rely on battle-tested pre-performance routines to prime their performance.
Evaluating talent is getting more scientific. Every team scrambles for an edge. Billy Beane revolutionized MLB with performance analytics. NFL prospects undergo physical agility and psychological tests at the Combine. Leading teams employ a mental conditioning coach, like myself. The latest development in building elite teams looks at how well players will fit a team’s chemistry. Essentially, this is social cohesion and it might just be the next frontier, the cutting edge.
What coach doesn’t want athletes to take responsibility for their actions? If you’re like most coaches I talk to, you prefer high integrity, high character competitors. You want championship level teammates, not just talent. However, athletes make mistakes. When they do, their coaches can encourage them to take the high road – responsibility.
Everyone is looking for an edge in sports. Coaches seek out any possible advantage that could boost their team’s performance. Athletes will go to great lengths to test to limits of their potential. The qualities that were once lumped together as intangibles are becoming tangible. Quickly emerging as the latest trend in sports science, sport psychology is bridging the gap in evaluating and developing athlete’s “no longer tangibles.” Optimism is one such edge.