To fully prepare athletes for competition, coaches should be training the mind along with training the physical aspects of the game. A team’s physical performance is a direct reflection of the quality of physical training. A team’s mental readiness is a direct reflection of the emphasis placed on training the mind.

Here are five ways to begin to train your team beyond the ball, a glimpse into the new JVA educational series launching next week:

1.  Establish a positive “Sense of Self”

  • Coaches and Parents- Be honest and honoring. Tell your athletes you’re proud of them with off court reasons.
  • Teach athletes the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence, there is a difference and you should be building both.
  • Athletes- Be proud of who you are! The stressors in your life aren’t easy to handle and you don’t need to be so hard on yourself.
  • Your competition isn’t on the other side of the net. Your competition is in the mirror.

2.  Facing challenges without allowing them to damage your “Sense of Self”

  • Coaches and Parents- How you respond to the athletes’ adversity will highly determine how they develop their intrinsic personal value.
  • We all are equally responsible for building a greater Sense of Self, all of us!
  • Athletes- You will face challenges in every aspect of your life; expect them and prepare yourself by visualizing certain situations you may encounter.
  • Once you can see it, act it out and prepare yourself to live it.

3.  Now that we are here, let’s stay here. Do not allow anything or anyone to take this from you.

  • Coaches and Parents- Set your expectations for errors, losses, drama, etc. and visualize and practice your positive responses.
  • What do you do after a bad loss? If you are holding on to it you’re partly to blame if the athletes are too. 
  • Athletes- You get one shot at every age group and every year.
  • Errors = Opportunity- Embrace all of them as opportunities of growth. Athletes make errors at every level, the best ones come right back!

4.  Give your teammates your “Best Self”, don’t we all deserve that?

  • Coaches and Parents- Are you compassionate and understanding when the athletes need it the most? This is what your Best Self should do.
  • Ever ask your athletes or children what they feel you can do to be more supportive of them? You should because they’ll tell you.
  • Athletes- If you knew you couldn’t play tomorrow how hard would you play today? Approach your off court preparation like this as well. 
  • This is it, every team is for one season at every age group. Don’t leave this one up to the “What If”. “What if” I would have given more??

5.  Attributes of the greatest competitors (hint: talent is not one of them)

  • Coaches and Parents- Some of these are referred to as intangibles, are you just looking for them or are you developing them?
  • High fives and hugs with any signs of growth.
  • Athletes- Make a team list of attributes to live by, ex: drive, desire, sportsmanship, effort, compassionate, supportive and a few others, now hold each other to those expectations.
  • Work on developing character-based attributes that will help you grow off of the court. Doing this will have a positive impact on your on court readiness.

Club season is right around the corner; prepare your athletes for competition by starting with their minds. Build their sense of self, their self-esteem and self-confidence, their self-awareness and self-appreciation. Help them understand and appreciate their daily successes and have them self-celebrate! Coaches, parents, and athletes are critical in the overall development of a strong athlete, both physically and mentally.

Continue developing the mental game for coaches, athletes and parents by following the new Beyond the Ball series that will cover mental preparation and readiness to help you approach this season.  In this series, Beyond the Ball Coaching’s Kevin Brylski will share proven methods that will enhance everybody’s mental readiness throughout the season, in turn providing an enhanced experience on and off of the court.

We often focus our coaching and preparation for when the ball is in the air, which of course is important. But if we aren’t prepared for when it’s not, then we will never compete as our highest level when it is.

About the Author

Beyond the Ball Coaching is just that, it’s Coaching that is not sport specific, not talent driven, and doesn’t focus on when the ball is in play.  This is what Beyond the Ball Coaching is, we coach everyone at every level of your organization to understand their particular and collective role in the development of your athletes. Kevin presents Beyond the Ball Coaching across the country and can be reached at the below email and phone number.

(847) 533-1185