Every coach wants a mentally tough team...

But how do you actually develop that?

3️⃣ TIPS to develop your athletes mental performance & toughness (and yours too)

from Ep. 24 with @DrBuning

🧵 ⬇️
1️⃣ It starts with modeling

"I often wonder if coaches just forget some of the basics." - Dr. Buning

This is the foundation of how we can help athletes improve their mental performance, by modeling it!

A big piece of mental performance is the ability to stay present...
If we as the coach, cannot stay focused on the present moment for whatever reason, it will be nearly impossible to develop that mental skill in our athletes.

Typically, it's our emotions that get in the way of effective modeling from coaches.
Sports are emotional, which is why it's so critical that coaches...

- Have an awareness of their triggers
- Develop skills that help them stay mindful and present
- Teach these skills to their players

We can't give what we don't have.
Developing our athletes mental performance begins with developing our own!

Do the work first.

Model the skills we want our athletes to develop!

We can't give what we don't have.
2️⃣ Beware of self-fulfilling of prophecies

This is true for coaches and players

Here's how it often plays out for coaches...
When we think something is going to happen, we're much more likely to see it.

The initial assumption we make is often based off of false or incomplete information though.

For example, we're told by another coach that one athlete is a leader and another is not...
We will then begin to see all sorts of things that confirm the assumption that we held based on the information we were given or collected.
Two strategies for coaches to avoid being swayed by self-fulfilling prophecies...

- Check your assumptions - What's the real reason for what's happening? Why assume when you can know?

- Check your stories - What are the stories you're telling about others and yourself?
The assumptions we make and stories we tell can often lead us to make decisions or act in ways that damage relationships with players.

Here's an example...
John walks into practice 10 minutes late for the third straight day.

We start to form a narrative...

"John's just not committed."

"John's not discipline and he's irresponsible."

Then, we start to treat John differently.

It may show up in the form of...
- Ignoring them
- Being overly critical of them
- Shaming them

So what does this have to do with developing athletes mental toughness and performance?
We need the mental toughness to fight against false assumptions and stories if we want to be able to help our athletes do the same!

And the process of self-fulfilling prophecies can often play out for our athletes, which reinforces a very fixed mindset around skills and growth.
We need to help our athletes identifying the stories and assumptions they made be holding onto that are liming their growth, but...

We can't give what we don't have.

We have to do the work first!
3️⃣ 3 Strategies to develop mental performance

1) Mindfulness

2) Diaphragmatic Breathing

3) Hype Numbers

Let's explore each of them more...
1) Mindfulness

This is about the ability to stay present in the moment.

Developing this skill begins with being able to recognize when we're starting to drift away from being present.
When we feel ourselves beginning to wander away from the present moment, we should...

- Acknowledge it
- Redirect attention back to where it needs to be
In sports, this is critical in several situations, but two in particular stand out...

- After a mistake
- When we disagree with a referee
These are just two examples of when it's so critical for coaches and players to be able to keep their attention focused on the present moment instead of getting caught up in the past.

Repeat: This is for players AND coaches!
The question is this:

Is our focus on the past or the present?

The best coaches stay present and teach their athletes to do the same.

Simple, but not easy.
2) Diaphragmatic Breathing

These are breaths that we take into our diaphragm, which expands the stomach.

These breaths life up our lungs and provides more oxygen to our brain, which can immediately relax our body and stress response system.
2-3 of these breaths can quickly re-center a coach or athlete and allow us to respond instead of simply reacting!

Coaches should use these more often, and we should teach our players how to do it too.
3) Hype Numbers

This is a self-assessment that you ask athletes where they rank their energy level on a scale of 1-10

We want are athletes to be in a state that is both energized and relaxed to perform optimally.
Prior to asking them to rate themselves, we should have a conversation where we discuss what they believe is their ideal Hype Number is to achieve peak performance...
Then, simply asking athletes where they currently are is a great way to help them become more aware of their energy level, then to be able to ask or discuss what they need to do to bring their level up or down depending on the situation.
It creates awareness and brings them back into the present moment.

This is the foundation of mental toughness, staying present in the moment!
If you enjoyed the thread, would you go retweet the first tweet to share it with other coaches?
You can...

Get a 5 page PDF of notes from Ep. 24 with @DrBuning

Notes ➡️ CoachesClubPod.com

Listen to Ep. 23 ⤵️

Apple: buff.ly/2POaoPx
Google: buff.ly/3aV2LxK
Spotify: buff.ly/3db3lcn

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More from @CoachesClub_

25 May
Ep. 8 with @brianmccormick is full of great stuff for coaches!

Here's our TOP 3 TAKEAWAYS...
1. Develop skills within the context of the game

There is a misconception that to develop skills, we must remove them from the game context and break them down in small pieces

If we want skills to transfer to the game, then develop the skills in context!
2. More Feedback is not always better

Too often players receive too much feedback from too many voices

Quality of feedback is more important than quantity

Players don't learn well when there are multiple voices and different pieces of feedback on each rep, so they tune it out.
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