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Calling All Coaches: Do You Have a Mental Skills Map?

Hillary Greene
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Calling all coaches: Do you have a mental skills map for the season? Many of you probably answered “yes” and it is likely the map was developed for your athletes. Great! You are on your way to facilitating your players’ success by teaching them both the technical and mental skills necessary to improve. You are aware of the importance of implementing mental skills tools when coaching your athletes, but did you ever think how mental training may help you?

For example, many coaches will teach athletes to use relaxation and energy management to control emotions on the court or field; but oftentimes these coaches forget to utilize the techniques themselves. Some coaches let their emotions control behaviors on the sideline or in the huddle and forget to harness those emotions to focus on the task at hand.

As a coach, you go through similar stressful events and emotional experiences as your athletes. Many of you feel pressure and put pressure on yourself to perform well. Therefore, the mental skills you teach your athletes are also applicable to you. Developing mental skills, such as the ability to manage emotions, control arousal, and simulate pressure can be implemented into your own mental skills map.

Consider making a mental skills map for yourself this season. Here is an example from one young soccer coach.

U-8 Club Soccer Mental Skills Map

Daily Affirmation: You are a dynamic young coach!

Team Motto: Fast footwork

Positive self-talk: Use my daily affirmation and remember my team motto; review and refine my coaching philosophy.

Energy Management: Write down what I can control and what I cannot control. Harness my emotions by using relaxation and positive self-talk during practices and games.

Relaxation: Take deep breaths anytime I sense frustration or anxiety. Also, use relaxation before games with my imagery.

Imagery/Visualization: After I am in a relaxed state, focus on where my players are on the field. Visualize myself on the sidelines. How am I responding, and coaching? Focus on my body language and voice control.

*This is just one example to help you get started. Create your own mental skills map, and then follow your map to become a better coach!