Six Objectives for Mental Preparation

By John Ellsworth

I have been using mental preparation strategies for my clients for many years.  There are many places a mental preparation strategy can and will work.  Students use them to prepare for a critical exam. Athletes use them to prepare for a game or performance, and business executives can use them before they deliver a very important presentation.

Athletes use them in a number of different situations for pre-event, pre-practice, or pre-execution preparation for a specific skill whether it be a team sports or an individual sport.  It’s important to remember the overall aim of the mental preparation is to create a functional pre-game mindset that can carry you through competition. The overall goal is to achieve a focused, confident and trusting mindset prior to entering the competitive environment.  Below are a few primary objectives you will want to accomplish with your mental preparation.

1. KISS  – Keep the preparation very simple and specific.  The most simple objective of mental preparation is to to get your mind ready to compete and clear of distractions.  You have practiced all week long, have strengthened your confidence by working efficiently on the skills areas that require the most refinement.

2. Believing in one’s ability and skills.  It’s extremely important you go into competition with the right mindset, the right objectives, and without excessively high expectations for performance.  Confidence is by far the most critical aspect of the mental preparation.  Practice is where you develop the basic foundation for confidence. It’s about work ethic, and having the right practice plan focused on skills improvement.  Practice like you play and play like you practice.  There should be little difference between the two.

3. Execution, execution, execution.  The only things the athlete has absolute control are attitude, behavior and execution.  The first two are critical because they can make or break execution because execution is so much a mental game.  I incorporate focus drills, and exercises into everything I do with athletes and include tools to be used for refocusing when the focus gets cloudy.

4. Coping with the ups and downs.  I believe to adequately cope with adversity requires having a certain level of confidence as a prerequsite. Everyone is different so everyone knows where their breaking point is. Adversity can affect composure, confidence and focus (the 3 C’s as I call them).  It’s important to have a few generic coping tools for the  unforeseen situations.  Recovery from adversity, and the rate at which the recovery process takes place will directly affect an athletes performance and how they see themselves on the team or in the bigger picture.

5. Stick to the game plan.  I encourage and teach each athlete I work with to have a game plan for each and every competition.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should state intentions, and be focused on objectives for performance.  I did not say focus on outcomes!  The outcome is not what competition is about it’s more about having a basic understanding of how you plan to execute, and how you see yourself in the execution process.

6. Know your role.  As human beings we have many different roles in life. We are athletes, fathers, teachers, coaches, and wear many other hats. The key here is to be able to separate those roles from one another and be centered in the present when we are executing in whatever role.   There is a strategy I teach my client’s that helps them completely separate the role of the athlete from the other roles. Do well at the role when you are in that role, and prepare each day for the time when you enter the role of the athlete.

On some level every athlete aspires to these objectives some really never discuss them, write them down, put them into action and track their success against their objectives.  One of the things I give athletes is a system to first establish the objectives, and then to monitor and track them and their success.

One of the first things we do is to identify the challenges, roadblocks, thoughts, and feelings that support a belief system that is limited in scope and depth.  We also take the athlete through a process of recovery and re-engineer their belief system to support a level of consistent and repetitive success. If you believe you “can’t” based on past experience you will learn to dump the self-fulfilling prophecy and get back on a path of “I can do this.”

For more information about this article contact or for information on mental game coaching contact John R. Ellsworth – Mental Game Coach at Protex Sports, LLC. www.protexsports.com. You can also send your questions to Ask Coach John.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: