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The Number ONE Misunderstanding of Performance Psychology

I am excited for the future of coaching as I am seeing more and more coaches truly embrace the connection between the psychology of performance and how it can be helpful for their athletes.

I believe that we are going to see a huge change in coaching delivery that creates optimal and healthy development environments, and that still have high-demand and high-accountability.

Oh…and the performance of their athletes will continue to get better and better.

Saying this, there is still some major room for growth. The largest space for growth in terms of understanding is that we - coaches – can’t “give” confidence, resilience, or the ability to “move on to the next play” to our athletes.

I’ve heard coaches say that they tell players that they believe in them, have told them to keep shooting even if they’re missing, or that they trust them, but that “it still doesn’t help”. The simple reason is that we can’t just turn these things over to our athletes. They’re skills that need time, attention, and practice.

Don’t get me wrong it’s great that the coach gives this support and feedback to their athletes, and it will definitely help some players that just need a little reassurance. But, for some players it’s their own highly critical thoughts, non-stop comparison to others, unrealistic expectations, predictions of what could happen to them if they “fail”, or the inability to regulate their own emotions that is in the way.

For these players there is hope and a path to getting better, but it will take some work. For these athletes learning mental skills (just like learning physical skills) that help with their attention, and then on what specifically to give their attention to, and what not, must be taught and practiced.

Without this specific work the coach will not be able to get them over the hump with encouraging words. Again, the intention is absolutely great, and its better to try then nothing at all, but will probably miss the mark unfortunately.

At WellPerformance we teach athletes 3 core principles for increasing mental-strength.

1) Keep our attention in the present moment

2) When focused within the present moment it needs to be on what he/she controls

3) Stay out of judgment (towards self, or judgment from others).

These seem pretty simple – and they are – but they are not easy to do especially in the heat of the battle. Put in the time and the work though and the results will follow.

About the Author

Stuart Singer, M.Ed., and PsyD (ABD) is the Director of WellPerformance, a Mental Performance Coaching and Consulting practice, and the creator of the DoSo app .

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