12 Mental Game Techniques for Athletes & Coaches

12 Mental Game Techniques for Athletes & Coaches
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One reason many athletes and even coaches feel stressed is because they have put so much pressure and responsibility on their own shoulders and they think of all the things that will happen if they fail. This fear of failure and stress can be controlled and subdued with Mental Game Techniques. Techniques that help you relax and re-direct your stress can make a huge difference in an athlete’s performance, and in a Coaching career. Learn how to apply the techniques listed below and you will become more successful.

Don’t be Like this Guy:

12 Mental Game Techniques to De-Stress:

  1. Exercise Regularly: Exercise dissipates the adrenaline that builds up in stressful situations and leaves you feeling a strong sense of achievement and control over your own life. 
  2. Eat Healthy: You would be suprised at how much you can change your stress level and mood just by what you eat. Eat healthy nutritious food that is clean of additives.  
  3. Sleep Stress Away: People need varying amounts ranging from 5 or 6 hours to 10 hours a night. By trial and error, you will know how much sleep YOU need to perform at your best, the tricky part is getting consistent with your sleep patterns and sticking to your big guns. Everyone loves to stay up late, snack, and watch movies, but those people aren’t going to the Olympics or breaking sports records. 
  4. Set Realistic Goals and Achievements: Work through one problem at a time in a logical way. Many people, especially young athletes have a lot of expectations on them from coaches, parents, teachers, and friends. This often leads to a large number of goals that could be out of their reach. If you are an athlete who plays multiple sports, make sure your not overwhelming yourself by setting too many goals. This makes it extremely hard to achieve them, and leads to athletes feeling unsuccessful. 
  5. Don’t let Panic Take Over: If you feel a panic or anxiety attack coming on, think through the problem by breaking it down. Imagine the worst that can happen. Nine times out of ten, it then appears less serious.
  6. You Can’t Do It All: Say NO to tasks and projects you cannot take on. People will not think any less of you. After all, they have not got ESP.
  7. Mistakes Happen: Remember that you are human and mistakes are inevitable. Learn to view mistakes as learning opportunities and problems as challenges.
  8. Practice Positive Visualization: Think about a time or a place when you were relaxed and at peace. It could have been on a holiday or a day off. Try to recreate the situation again in your mind, thinking about the sights, sounds and smells you experienced. Visualise yourself back into the scene. You will find that after 5 to 10 minutes you feel much more relaxed as your brain does not know the difference between imagining a situation and actually being there. Some people call it day dreaming but visualisation is a very powerful tool in reducing stress and anxiety.
  9. Take time out for yourself: Make sure you are doing some things in your life because they are important to you, rather than because you ought to or should do. You deserve to take a break occasionally, do not feel guilty enjoy it. Read this related article: Sports Parent Involvement: Cut Stress Out, Increase Happiness!
  10. Love Yourself: If you do not like yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to. Understand also that you cannot change anybody else – only yourself.
  11. Practice physical relaxation techniques: Progressive relaxation contracting and relaxing all the body parts is a very effective way of reducing tension.
  12. Sports Massage is an alternative method of helping to relieve tension and to relax you.

Still Stressed? Checkout some of these related articles: 

Are you coaching the mental game?

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A little more about Natasha Hawkins...

Experience: Division 1 Fastpitch Softball player at San Jose State. Degree: B.S in Marketing and Advertising Certifications: Certified Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Interests: She loves the way the brain works and how personalities and attitude can create a warrior of an athlete that will always persevere and make success for themselves. While she is not a certified nutritionist she studies and practices the Paleo diet and Zone eating. Quirk: I am an avid archer and hunter. Yup, it's true. I have shot archery since I could walk, and hunted with my Dad since I was born. I also have a sister (Cheridan Hawkins) who is a stud pitcher for the Oregon Ducks Softball Team and is on the Junior Olympic Team. My youngest sister Charli Hawkins trains with me at CrossFit and is also a catcher on the 12U California Grapettes. Follow Natasha on Twitter: @NatashaBHawkins