From the JVA Office: How We Can Help Players Learn to Take Ownership of Their Mind and Motivation

As many know, coaches are already overextended in their duties. Many give their time freely and work with players because they are passionate about the sport and youth development. A Mindset Coach is there to assist team coaches in their goals and act as an additional educational resource for development needs.

A Mindset Coach enables club teams to focus on empowering their players in volleyball and in their daily lives. There are many instances in which volleyball gives players intense, emotional situations that are related to their growth as a person. Volleyball gives players the opportunity to feel joy and pride, and challenges them to cope with feelings like guilt and shame. In recent times, there have been instances of trauma and intense, deep loss due to the pandemic.

The emotions that players have had to experience during this time were intense. It became clear in my work that athletes had many different needs- and one of them was to continue having the opportunity to continue to work together as a team through these obstacles. As a Mindset Coach, I worked with coaches to develop differential team curriculums that helped to give players insights into themselves, their emotional experiences, and their coping strategies so that they can learn to be strong together.

As teams return to play, analyzing and aggregating motivation and identity data can be key in identifying and working through struggles that may have arisen during this unprecedented time. For many teams, the pause in play happened during a motivational peak. Players were competing in tournaments, had set goals, and were looking forward to their next opportunities. The abrupt stop during the last season can cause shifts in the ways that players and teams interpret their mindset in future events.

In my experience, I have realized that volleyball players are hard workers. They crave learning opportunities. They are also very in tune with their experiences on the court. A key benefit of having a Mindset Coach to work with coaches and athletes is that it is our job to see the funds of knowledge players possess from their experiences, and utilize those experiences to create learning opportunities that can help them be successful in taking ownership of their mind.

What is a ‘Mindset Coach’?

A Mindset Coach is a person who has the main priority of helping teams with their mindset. The word ‘mindset’ can include anything from motivational aspects like self-regulation and goal setting to team cohesion aspects like belongingness and collective confidence. A Mindset Coach should work closely with the coaches in the club or on the teams that they are working with. Developing a mutual relationship of trust with coaches is key to being their assistant as they work towards their team’s goals.

How does a Mindset Coach help?

The goal of a Mindset Coach is not to override the team coach, but instead work together to ensure that players have every possible opportunity to succeed. This involves having deep conversations with coaches about their interpretations of the team, understanding and working with their goals, and honoring their expertise.

When working with players, the goal of the Mindset Coach is to objectively identify areas of improvement from a team perspective. While focusing on the parts (individuals) in the team may aid in personal development, the role of the Mindset Coach is to look at the team as a system. What is working? What needs to be addressed? How can the team grow together?

The Mindset Coach is there to support the club, coach, and team with extra resources and opportunities for learning and developing a ‘growth’ orientation around their goals.

While each Mindset Coach may operate differently, the general role involves:

1. Develop strong relationships with the coaches and players I work with;

2. Identify the growth needs of the team based on multiple sources of data;

3. Develop a personalized team learning plan and resources based on the data;

4. Implement the learning plan with the team and coaches;

5. Assess the utility of the learning plan as players progress;

6. Modify as necessary.

A Mindset Coach’s job is to be fluid and flexible as teams develop, goals change, and players grow. Each team is unique in its operation and for this reason, it is essential to work closely with coaches as they know their teams best. A Mindset Coach is a resource to coaches to help them in being able to focus more fully on their own work as they guide their teams forward.

How to Incorporate a Mindset Coach

Involving a Mindset Coach in your program takes care and conversation. There are many educational and athletic experiences to look for when exploring options and each candidate may differ on what they offer. I would be happy to discuss incorporating a Mindset Coach with your club further if this is something that you believe your players would benefit from. Please feel free to contact me at

Other Needs

While a Mindset Coach is an excellent resource for team motivation and development needs, sometimes individual players need the care of a trusted ‘other’ who is unaffiliated with the club and can provide mental health care. A good place to start searching for individual care is from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology’s Certified Mental Performance Consultant page:

Mental Health Guidance and Resources for Coaches, Athletes, and Parents

Additional Mental Training resources.

About the Author

Lauren Pierce is a Performance Consultant for athletes, coaches, and players in Tucson, AZ. She is currently a Mindset Coach for Club Cactus Juniors Volleyball, a JVA member club, and holds her PhD in Educational Psychology where she studies aspects of team and individual motivation. Lauren grew up playing sports and continues to compete at the elite level in obstacle course racing. Her time as an athlete and coach motivated her to pursue research applications related to ‘the mental game’. The passion and commitment of the athletes and coaches that she has worked with inspired her to continue her work by developing a mental performance program as she pursues future research and teaching in academia.

Lauren Pierce, PhD
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2020-10-15T00:11:25+00:00October 15th, 2020|Categories: Blog, Club Director, Fitness/Mental Training|
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