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Mental Training 101

Mental training has always been on the minds of professional coaches to arm chair quarterbacks.  It has always been a topic although it may have been referenced by different names in the past.  You hear phrases such as “the game is 50% mental” or “it’s all in your head”.  That is how we describe it.  Unfortunately, that is where is stops.  Those same people are then paralyzed by the inability to positively affect what they know to be true.  I believe that paralysis comes from a lack of understanding but even more so a lack of the tools to allow the mind to be strengthened in the same way lifting weights strengthens the muscles.

Mental training is developing the mind through consistent, repetitive practice in order to achieve a perspective and outlook that allows you to perform at your best. Whether that performance is on a field, court, board room, or living room, being mentally strong is the edge that you gain over others in your environment.

Why Is Mental Training to Important?

There are 2 reasons mental training is important.

  1. Life can get hard.  We all need to learn how to deal with adversity when it comes and as important, learn how to squeeze every ounce of purpose from our lives.  As coaches/parents/teachers, it is our responsibility to teach or offer an environment where young people learn skills that help them navigate the ups and downs of school, career, and relationships.  This is all about training your mind to manage emotions.

  2. As it relates to athletics, we know athletic teams are now practicing year round.  Your team has an off season weight lifting program and conditioning program.  You are constantly getting your bodies stronger and your physical stamina to its peak for the season.  They are becoming elite physical specimens.  But guess what, so is every competitor on your schedule.  You think they aren’t working out and conditioning as hard as you TO BEAT YOU? You better believe it.  So how does your program gain a competitive edge when there is so much talent & physical training parity?


How Do I Apply It to My Life/Program?

This is where we move past the paralysis and start positively affecting our performance.  Below is a detailed example of a mental skill and the mental training that goes with it that will help you improve.

Creating A Positive Attitude

Nothing can shape your future in a more beneficial way than a positive attitude.  When you have a positive outlook and perspective, things become easier because you are looking for the good not the bad.  OK, agreed but how do I create a positive attitude?

  1. Self Talk – One of my favorite phrases I heard Kevin Elko use is “Pay Attention to How You Talk To You”.  I had to think about it for a minute but he’s right.  We are constantly telling ourselves things.  I’m tired, I’m hungry, I don’t feel good, I’m not as good as her, He’ll never go out with me, I’m never going to get better at this.  All day long with are talking to ourselves and more times than not, they are negative.  Telling ourselves things we can’t do, or who we aren’t.  NIP THAT IN THE BUD!  Start saying to yourself, I’m not good at this YET.  I am a nice person, they would probably love to go on a date with me.  I am smart, I am fast, I can hit, and my personal favorite, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!  We are our biggest critic.  Give yourself a break and start telling yourself what you can do, not what you can’t.

  1. Don’t complain – Someone always has it worse than you.  Complaining just fills your head up with what’s wrong with you life, not what’s right.  Complaining is negativity.  What’s even worse is listening to someone else complain to you, 2nd Hand Complaining is what Dr Elko calls it.  He cites research that has shown 2nd hand complaining actually creates higher cortisol levels in the brain.  Constant high cortisol levels actually prevents the brain from learning and contributes to cell death.  Cell death is very negative.  Don’t complain and avoid situations where others are complaining.  It just brings you down.

  1. Squash the ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) – Ever been driving down the road, see a police car and hit the brakes … AND YOU WERE DRIVING 2 MPH UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT.  Seeing the police car was an automatic negative thought.  He may have ticketing another car that was speeding that could have potentially caused you to wreck.  Thank the Lord for that police officer!  “Taylor, the principal needs to see you in his office right now”.  Immediately you start thinking of what you did wrong.  What you are getting in trouble for.  You might even start getting defensive saying you didn’t do anything wrong.  STOP IT!  It isn’t always bad.  Start thinking he is about to let you know you were elected for an award or got a scholarship.  Coach may be calling you in to say you have one the starting job.  Start thinking about the positive comes that could occur, not the negative!

Other mental skills include:

  1. Power of Belief – Cutting the string of limitations

  2. Visualization – Seeing yourself being successful

  3. Focus on Process Not Outcomes – Control the Controllables

  4. Performance Mindset – How to Flip the Switch

Mental skills identification and training could be the missing piece of your success story.  If you physical training and natural talent are not getting you where you think you should be, I may have the tools to help you build your ladder of success.  Send me an email at or give me a call.


Taylor Edge

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