Mental Skills Training for Athletes: Making Sure the Process Lines up With your Goals
In this post I wanted to touch upon the need to look at if your process and the work you are doing to get better as an athlete lines up with the goals you have or an area you are trying to improve on. I wanted to touch upon this because this week I had a client come in to my office with this issue, and I think it is something many athletes do, where they focus on the amount of work or practicing they are doing, the effort they are putting in, but not necessarily does it fully line up with things they are needing to get better at or goals they have.
My client came in frustrated that his efforts in practice, both team and individual, were not giving him the results he wanted. It had been going on long enough, where if he was doing the right things, most likely he would have seen some results by now. So we started to dig a bit into his drills, and process for practice. How he was practicing and what he was practicing. His goal and skill he needed to get better at is learning to hit faster pitches. He is at an age, where the speed of pitch is significantly faster than what he is used to. The difference, also, between what he is used to and what he is now facing is bigger than he has experienced in the past.
So I started asking him what he is doing to help with this, what specifically he was doing that was centered around faster pitching and his reaction time, and helping him get more comfortable with it, other than in the game itself. We quickly discovered that he wasn't doing anything specific to this issue. All his work was mainly around his batting technique. He kept thinking if he worked hard enough on it, that alone would help him with the faster pitches. Of course technique is important, but he also has to do things around reaction time, and seeing faster pitches in his practice. So we talked about where this could be implemented.
This is something many athletes deal with. It is easy to get caught up in just the fact you are putting in the work, and a lot of effort, and thinking it will translate to a specific thing. This is not the case. Just because something worked in the past, or is still needing to be worked on, doesn't mean it covers everything or will continue to be the best approach. It is easy to get into a groove of how you practice, what you practice and just stick with it. I have seen this is different instances across different sports, where athletes get frustrated things aren't coming, or their production has dropped off, but they just look at some very general things, and think nothing has changed or they don't need to do anything different.
You must rethink what you are doing. You can't just stick to what has always worked, and you also need to get more specific when things are not going the way you think they should. If the results aren't coming, and you think they should be, you are missing something. Details are very important, and learning to assess without overthinking things, or constantly changing things is a key mental skill, athletes need to learn.
The question isn't always are you doing things right, it sometimes is are you doing the right thing for what you are trying or needing to do. So if you think your results should be different then they are, really think about are you doing the right things, and are they aligned with what you are trying to do.
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Kate Allgood Masters Sport Psychology (with distinction) Masters General Psychology (with distinction) Sports Hypnosis Certification Mindfulness Certification
TAIS Assessment Certified