Monday, October 18, 2010

Mental Game Planning

A post from Ivan on how to handle pre race nerves!

Ben Baker here from the American Coaching Academy.

Today's e-lesson is on Mental Game Planning.

Everyone should have a game plan for competition.

When a player consistently gets nervous in front
of a crowd or gets psyched out after making a mistake,
a contingency plan routed in sports psychology can help
them get back on track and forget the earlier problem.
Learn how to motivate your athletes by walking them
through this exercise.

Each athlete should have a contingency plan that
includes the following:

* Pregame preparation
* Plan for errors during the competition
* Avoiding competitive stress

Pregame preparation should be a routine that the
player chooses that helps them focus and calm
themselves before the game. For some players,
this includes listening to music or meditating.

For some, it involves warm-up drills or visualization.
Help your players identify what gets them prepared,
focused, and confident, and work with them to create
a routine that prepares them for the game.

Errors are going to occur during competition, but the
players that have a plan for getting back on track are
more likely to bounce back and succeed. Sit down with
players to find out what motivates them after they make
a mistake.

With that knowledge, help them devise a strategy for
dealing mentally with errors that happen during the game.

Perhaps they should take a few seconds to say silent
affirmations, such as "I am good, I am worthy, I can
do this," or maybe they should visualize making their
next play perfect. Whatever works for players is the
right contingency plan.

Finally, help players avoid competitive stress by
taking steps to eliminate the unknown. Explain what
players should expect during every game. Work with
them to channel their nerves into power.

Nerves are a natural part of competition, but those
players who learn to control those butterflies in the
stomach are the ones who come out as winners.

Teach players to take deep breaths, focus on one thing
at a time, and believe in themselves. With that plan,
competitive stress becomes an asset, not a liability.

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