Helping Athletes Adhere to Mental Training

Commitment to Mental Coaching

To help your athletes succeed with mental training, they must both remember and apply what you teach them from your live sessions. We like to give athletes tasks or assignments to complete between lessons to accelerate and reinforce learning…

The objective is to provide a means to reinforce the mental coaching lessons you teach. Providing athletes with “homework” assignments reinforces the lessons you teach.

In the Mental Game Coaching Professional (MGCP) system, we teach mental coaches to use the “Athletes’ Mental Edge Workbook” system to help athletes learn faster and apply mental skills to practice and competition.

But here’s the big problem…

Busy student-athletes often don’t have time to complete a 12-page workbook or other assignments you might provide.

Here’s what an MGCP wrote about his experience working with young athletes:

“Do you have any tips on how to get young athletes to complete their mental coaching assignments? I have found most young athletes to have difficulty doing their assignments.”

~MARK WALSH, MGCP

Adherence to the homework you assign does depend on the athlete’s age…

I find that 10-13 year old athletes might not be fully motivated or capable to complete the assigned work on their own. And high-school age athletes are often too busy with school and training. So it’s a challenge for mental coaches

As one parent stated about his 11-year-old athlete: “My son just won’t complete a 12-page workbook. Do you have any other way he can learn the material?”

The dilemma is that you want athletes to complete homework assignments, including workbooks, but if you burden them with too much, they fail to adhere altogether.

So how do you simplify mental coaching homework to get greater adherence?

One suggestion is to ask athletes to complete the worksheets only. The worksheets are only 2-3 pages of exercises pulled from the workbooks, which takes less time.

Another successful strategy is to use short audio programs. I call these “pregame audio summaries.” Many young athletes would prefer to listen to a short audio than complete a full workbook.

Other mental game coaches in our mastermind group have suggested:

  • Use text messages as reminders (parents have actually requested this form of communication).
  • Send a quick video that outlines a lesson or action plan.
  • Provide an easy-to-read session summary on one page for quick review.
  • Use the term “mental readiness” or another phrase instead of the dreaded word “homework.”
  • Ask the athlete to set aside a regular time before or after practice, such as during the car ride, to complete the assignments.

You might also provide a deadline for athletes to return the homework to you. You can even send a text or email reminding them of the deadline. Reminders are key for athletes that you only coach once a week.

I also explain to my athletes how to get the full benefit from the mental coaching program. I stress that the live sessions are only a small part of the overall mental coaching plan. They should work to apply what they learn everyday—outside the live sessions.

If you want to learn more about how to use the workbook system and become a certified Mental Game Coaching Professional, please contact us at Peaksports.com.

What’s your input? Do you have any tips to help athletes adhere to their mental coaching “homework”? If so, please email us or leave a comment below…

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