Help! I’m a Coach and Want to Teach the Mental Game - Part II

If you’re a soccer coach, chances are you religiously keep up with the latest drills and methods to improve the technical and tactical aspects of your team. 

You want to know the latest trends in strategy, formations, and styles of play to stay one step ahead of the competition on the pitch. And, even though U.S. Soccer agrees that the psychological component is the 4th pillar of player development, there are very few quality resources for coaches and players.

Read: TEACHING THE MENTAL SIDE OF YOUTH SOCCER

In an article published last year on how the U.S. Women’s National Team was developing their mental game, the author discussed the important gap between recognizing mental strength training is important and providing the tools need to close this gap:

MOST SOCCER COACHES SAY ‘YES,’ MENTAL TRAINING IS IMPORTANT BUT WHEN ASKED IF THEY ACTUALLY PROVIDE ANY … THE ANSWER IS ALMOST ALWAYS ‘NO.’

But don’t panic. Soccer...

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The Mental Game: Working on the 4th Pillar During COVID-19

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SOCCER TODAY ON APRIL 13, 2020. 

Muhammad Ali once said, “Don’t count the days. Make the days count.”

 For those soccer players navigating the COVID-19 crisis, are you making the best use of your time?

Because when this crisis ends and we return to “normal,” it will be apparent who made the days count, and which players simply counted the days.

For the past couple of weeks, I have run 5-day “bootcamps” on how to improve your mental game during this interesting time. This Tuesday through Thursday, I will be running a soccer-specific webinar series from 7-8pm EDT, and U.S. soccer legend Julie Foudy will be making an appearance to talk about her mental game.

If social media is any indication, many players are putting in the work. It’s awesome to see so many clubs providing players and coaches with video tutorials on how to improve technical skills, footwork, and physical...

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12 months, 67 hours, 6 players, 1 team, 1 dream

The Announcement

Last February, I was asked to be one of three former collegiate athletes to speak to all of Seton Hall University’s Division-I athletes about leadership and life. 

Overcoming a lot of self-doubt and limiting beliefs, I announced that I was willing to work with any team or athlete on their mental game. I didn’t know it then, but it was the start of Top Mental Game. 

After the talk, several players and coaches came up and wanted to get started. One of those coaches was Coach Natalie Desjardins, the women’s golf coach. We met the next week in my office, and we collaborated on a set of team sessions based around various aspects of the mental game - mental toughness, self-talk, goal-setting, and visualization and imagery exercises. 

A Year With Seton Hall Women’s Golf

I first spoke to the team on Feb 28, 2019. At the end of my first session, I said that I’d also be willing to work with any of the players one-on-one. 

I...

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Process vs. Outcome Goals....and Your Self-Esteem

 

What is your big, hairy, and audacious goal (stealing Jim Collins’ great concept from his book, Good to Great)?

I bet you it is likely some type of outcome goal. An outcome goal is simply something that you’d like to achieve. Examples include earning a starting spot on your team, getting a college scholarship in your sport, or being named to your All-Conference team at the end of the year.

There is nothing wrong with outcome goals per se, but they can pose a serious threat to your self-esteem and your motivation to continue playing your sport if those are the only goals you are setting. 

Why do I say this? 

Because if you only have a list of outcome goals for you to achieve, you are more likely to internalize failure if you don’t end up achieving them. This is a particular problem for athletes who have difficulty differentiating their value as a person versus their value as an athlete. 

In other words, they have grown up believing, “I am...

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4 Irrefutable Truths of Mental Toughness

 

Elite performers understand there are 4 irrefutable truths to mental toughness.

1) We play at our best when we are loose, focused, and confident. Conversely, we play at our worst when we are tight, unfocused, and full of anxiety and doubt. For some of you, playing loose and confident is easy, but for most of us, it is not. We can, however, learn how to get our minds in that optimal state of performance through breathing techniques, positive self-talk, and visualization and imagery exercises - all of which I teach at Top Mental Game.

2) The best athletes have clearly defined goals and an understanding of how to get there. I'm shocked at how many elite athletes I work with at the high school and collegiate level that don't have a clear understanding of their goals. If you don't know where you're going, then it's tough to know how to get there. How can you maximize your time at practice? Where should you be devoting your energy?

3) Speaking of energy, elite performers understand that...

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