An advantage my daughters had when they played sports was that my wife and I competed in college sports. So we always worked on their athletic mindset to prepare them for competition. We always told them that being great starts when you believe that YOU CAN!
This week I asked one of my travel softball team pitchers about her mindset after a great game. She had pitched to seal our championship last weekend.
She told me her thoughts were “these girls can’t hit me”.
My students have a distinct advantage; we spend time on the mindset of the player.
This conversation had me thinking about how many parents and coaches focus on the technical of a student-athletes underperformance, but ignore the mental reason for why a player may be struggling.
I appreciate and agree that technical glitches happen and need correction, and sometimes the only way the athlete is aware of such things is when a coach points it out to them.
Competition is 90% is mental
Sometimes a technical reminder is all one needs, but most of the time it is not the physical part of the game, it is the mental part that needs a coach to help with.
So, let’s think about a scenario.
A good player goes into a slump. It happens.
Between the time the p;ayer was hitting well to her current struggle, did she get physically worse?
Did she get weaker?
Did she get slower and less athletic? Not likely.
So, what happened to cause this strong-hitting athlete to suddenly struggle?
Well first, it is softball. And like any sport, there are ups and downs.
Second, athletes experience peaks and valleys.
This is what elite athletes know. That all things being equal, 90% of their success is above the shoulders.
You see, the 1%, those precious few who get big-time scholarships and go on to have great careers possess the mental tools to get them out of their slumps.
Instead of one more hitting lesson, parents and coaches should support their athletes mental tool development. That will set them apart from the rest.
At the highest level, players who had as much or more talent than everyone else yet lacked the mental tools necessary, never reached their full potential.
Being great starts when you believe that YOU CAN.
Many times I hear coaches say “get focused”. We need to be “mentally tougher”.
Good advice, but those coaches don’t necessarily demonstrate what that looks like.
It’s like telling a young softball player to “get the bunt down”, but never showing them how to hold the bat.
Note to coaches: our player’s mental development should be intentional. One more lesson will not change what’s going on in your athletes head.
Doing well is the result of feeling good about and believing in themselves.
When they learn the life skills that I am talking about, they not only become better players now, they gain life skills that support a healthy “self”. One who is better prepared to deal with all that life throws at them.
I can perceive when young athletes have the mental tools accompanying their physical prowess — they get through the peaks and valleys. They’re more likely to end up college graduates. They are better prepared for life after their playing days are over.
Talk to me about how we will help your student-athlete . Believe That YOU CAN!
La Shawn B. Wells, JD
Peak Performance Coach
Image courtesy brightdrops.com