Helping Athletes Change their Thinking
Changing old habits is hard to do for athletes. I agree with this statement especially when it comes to coaching the mental game.
Old habits of thinking are hard to change for many athletes. Especially when they are well ingrained over several years (of practice).
Athletes stay stuck in old patterns of thinking for many reasons:
- They don’t know another approach
- Poor thinking is reinforced by coaches or parents
- They are afraid change will cause havoc
- They simply don’t buy into the mental game
- Working harder or being more dedicated is the only answer
Do you work with athletes that resist changing their mental game? Just this morning I was working with one of my pro Motocross racers…
We talked about how to let go of the pressure and expectations to finish on the podium every week.
He confesses: “But others always told me I should finish in the top 3. I think I should finish in the top 3.”
He continued, “I don’t know how to break the cycle. I’ve always done it that way.”
And guess what? He knows these expectations cause him to push too hard and make more mistakes on the track. Is that working for him? No. Does he resist change? Yes.
How do you help these athletes realize their old way of thinking is not working?
Reason with them. Rationalize with them. Give them an alternative way of thinking. But you can’t just suggest another option. You have to tell them what THE better option is…
One of my mentors, Bob Rotella, is a master at this. He does not tell athletes WHY they need to change. He tells his athletes HOW they need to change.
Your athletes will resist change unless you decisively give them another or a better option than the old way of thinking.
And then they need proof that it’s working for others…
“What do the top athletes in my sport think?” they’ll ask.
Your veteran athletes will need verification that the new way of thinking works by doing it and being successful with it.
As a mental coach, you are in the business of change. Behavior change. If you don’t get your athlete’s buy-in, commitment, and application, it’s hard to help them effect change.
One advantage of the MGCP certification course is learning how to get athletes to make, commit to, and apply changes to improve performance.
Contact me today if you want to join the MGCP course. Get more details at the website:
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