Creating mentally strong athletes that can bring the right focus to training and perform under pressure is no easy task. While specialists can help in this area, every coach needs to understand that how they design training can also help develop the athlete mentally as well as physically. On this episode of the GAINcast we talk about sports psychology and how to integrate important concepts into daily training sessions.
Notes and quotes
Vern has been involved with sports psychology for nearly 50 years and we start off the episode by looking back at some lessons he has learned and how his approach to sports psychology has evolved over his career. We then focus on some current hot topics facing coaches in this area, as well as tips for how coaches can help athletes develop mental skills that will carry over to the game.
- 4:00 – The birth of sports psychology: “I saw right away that the idea of psyching up and frothing at the mouth is not what it was about. That’s not deep motivation that prepares you to play. “
- 9:00 – Nort Thornton, Bob Nideffer, and additional influences.
- 13:00 – Current view of sports psychology: “Looking at good coaches vs. great coaches the thing you see is that great coaches are great psychologists that understand themselves and work to understand their athletes. “
- 17:30 – Mental toughness: “Mental toughness is not about screaming; it is the athlete that shows up every day and maintains an even keel and can handle the bumps in the road really well. “
- 19:30 – Military influences on training: “On the outside the military looks tough, but they are prepared. They train for hours to address every potential contingency. They’ve practiced every scenario and can control their emotions under pressure. ” “We try to make everything so easy for the athletes today, but we have to practice putting them in situations where there is adversity. “
- 22:30 – Coaching as sports psychology and connecting training to the demands of the sport.
- 26:00 – Boredom: “Repetitive training doesn’t have to be boring. It only becomes boring when you can’t connect it to the game. I don’t know any athlete that doesn’t like to get better, so show the connection and the complaints stop. “
- 28:00 – Sports psychology and skill acquisition: “You have to learn how you will react to stress. You cannot wait until Saturday to find out, you have to be in those situations already on Monday to prepare for those situations. “
- 30:00 – Strengths and weaknesses: “I want to put the athlete in situations where they can use their mental and physical strengths. But some of the weakness could also keep them from performing at their best. Find the sweet spot between training strengths and weaknesses. “
- 32:30 – Differences in sports psychology for developmental and elite athletes and an example from Vern’s high school basketball coach.
- 38:00 – Lessons from Bondarchuk: “If you know you are physically prepared, it gives you a lot of mental confidence heading into a competition. That’s why you cannot silo the sports psychology aspect, physical preparation can prepare the athlete mentally. “
- 40:00 – Goal setting.
To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
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- This month’s site theme is mental training. For more on the topic listen to the HMMR Podcast which covered mental skills and got inside the mind of elite athletes. We’ve also put together new articles on dealing with fear, mental toughness and mountaineering, mental toughness and strength training, real life lessons from Sergej Litvinov and Szymon Ziolkowski, and designing holistic exercises.
- This episode touched on some prior topics we’ve looked at on the GAINcast, including GAINcast 151 on goals, GAINcast 124 on making the champion’s choice, GAINcast 130 on cognition in sport with Len Zaichkowsky and Daniel Peterson, and GAINcast 68 on the silofication of sport.
- Vern has also written about a number of these topics like mental toughness, failure, Navy Seal training and other nonsense, The Little Engine That Could, and preparing the path.