Raising Elite Competitors

3 Signs Your Athlete is Ready for Mental Training (& The Best Time To Start)

January 23, 2024 Coach Bre Season 2 Episode 179
Raising Elite Competitors
3 Signs Your Athlete is Ready for Mental Training (& The Best Time To Start)
Show Notes Transcript

Are you wondering if your young athlete is ready for mental training? In this episode, I discuss how to recognize the readiness for mental training in athletes – and when the right time to start is.

What’s Covered: 

  • Defining mental training and its importance in sports.
  • 3 Signs Your Athlete Is Ready for Mental Training
  • Comparing the benefits of in-season vs. out-of-season mental training.
  • Effective ways to introduce mental training to your athlete.
  • How to use resources like conversation guides and podcasts for better engagement.
  • Clarifying the concept of ‘elite performance’ in young athletes.
  • The necessity of mental training for older athletes (16+).

Don’t miss out on these vital insights that could be a game-changer for your young athlete’s sports journey. Tune in to the full podcast episode to learn more about preparing your athlete for the mental challenges of sports. Listen now!

🎧 Listen to the full episode here: Buzzsprout

Episode Highlights: 

[00:00] Mental training for athletes and when to start. Discover the importance of mental training for athletes and when to start, addressing concerns of parents who may not know if their athlete is ready.

[02:04] Mental training for athletes. The importance of mental training for athletes; recognizing that 90% of their sport is mental.

[06:03] Mental training for athletes aged 11-16. Between 11-16 years old, athletes are cognitively ready for a more formal mental training program like the Elite Mental Game, and can apply concepts to their sport.

[13:53] Mental training for young athletes. In-season and off-season mental training considerations. Tips for getting buy-in from athletes and their parents for mental training programs.

Next Steps:

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Welcome back to the raising elite competitors podcast. I'm coach brief, a mental performance coach for girl athletes. And I am thrilled that you are here today. We're talking about three signs that your athlete could be ready for mental training. And when the best time is to start. So you are here because you're wondering like whether you are just beginning and this whole sports mom journey with your athlete, or maybe you have an athlete that is super experienced, has had a lot of seasons under their belt. You're wondering, and you're seeing that the mental side of the game is something that is important because you know, the mental side of the game is where her competence lies. It's where her belief about herself lies. It's where her tools are to navigate the normal parts of being an athlete. Like. Leveling up, dealing with the pressure coming back from mistakes, all of these skills that coaches expect from your athletes. But coaches don't typically teach these skills. However, they will say you need to be mentally tough or, you know, you've got all the physical skills, but you need to be more confident. You know, and you're like, oh gosh, well, how do you teach that? Come on. I thought you were supposed to teach that. Well, let me tell you right now, most coaches are not trained in how to teach mental skills to athletes. So if you have that thought in the back of your mind of like, well, I know that this could benefit my athlete, but. Is she ready for it? Will she benefit from it? When should we start? Should it be in season or out of season? We're going to cover all of that in this episode. Now before we do, I do want to give a shout out to a mom and an athlete inside our community. So this mom recently texted us. So inside our program called the elite mental game, we have something called coach on call. In the program, check in with our athletes. We check in with moms and they have unlimited access to us to ask us questions, to tell us how things are going. And this mom wrote back to one of our check-ins and said this, Hey. We paused some of the program over the holidays, but I can tell you, I have seen a demeanor change in her. She stops and thinks before she responds more. She has begun to do her snapback without being reminded that she has that tool. Hey, this is awesome. The skill of being able to stop and think even just for a moment before an athlete responds like. Let me be honest here. This is a skill that sometimes adults don't have. And so an athlete being able to have this skill, a pausing. And recognizing them with their feeling and the responding based on how they want to respond. Not based off emotion is huge. Her snapback routine. This is a routine that athletes learn. The first week that they're inside the elite mental game, and this is the tool that they use to come back from mistakes or setbacks or just anything. Where they're kind of bumped out of the zone. So being able to have that tool in their back pocket and use it without being reminded. Awesome job. Keep going. We are super proud of you both. All right, let's get to today's episode. He's your athlete read for mental training. I've got three questions for you to consider three themes that you need to consider. When talking about mental training, no. First what is mental training? Okay. We already talked a little bit about what this is, but at its root mental training is utilizing your athlete's mind to leverage her performance. So this is an athlete's ability to train her thoughts, her behaviors, and her actions to navigate any situation that comes up in her athletic experience and anything from nerves to pressure coming back from mistakes, like all of these things that all normal athletes experience, but not. All athletes know how to navigate. In fact, most athletes don't know how to navigate. Because these skills aren't typically taught. It's also empowering athletes that they have control over their thoughts and reactions, just like the mom reported to us. Being able to pause and realize that. Hey, I don't have to respond out of anger out of fear in this situation, I can pause it. And do I step back routine, take a deep breath and then I can respond how I want to respond. It's also declaring ahead of time through affirmation and through visualization, the athlete and the person that your athlete wants to be. So it's thinking ahead, having some foresight and some future pacing. This is who I want to be, and this is what it looks like. And I'm even going to visualize that and get that into my subconscious brain. It's also the ability to sit with uncomfortable emotions, knowing that they're okay. Confidence is trusting themselves. Confident competence in your athlete is the ability for her to trust herself and trust the experience that she is having. And oftentimes we get the messages from athlete, from, you know, as an athlete that you can't be sad. You can't be disappointed. You can't be angry. You can't be frustrated. You need to get over that emotion quick, stop crying. You know, and so being able to recognize that this emotion is a normal part of being an athlete, and I can actually move through this. I can process it without having to stuff it down and get rid of it that way, where I think I'm getting rid of it, but really I'm not. That is a skill that athletes benefit from when they know how to do that. noW and we performance when we say the elite mental game or elite performance or the elite competitor. I had a conversation with a parent recently, that was like, what do you mean by elite? Because I'm not sure that my athlete is elite. And I actually don't want to put that pressure on her to be elite. I love that this mom brought this up because in our world, in the elite competitor and in our elite mental game, elite means that athletes are playing to their potential. They're having fun and enjoying their sport. That doesn't mean it's not. You know, easy all the time. But they are at, at the root, they are loving their sport and they are finding joy from it. And they have the tools to navigate. Anything that comes their way. That is elite performance. So I'll say that again. Elite performance. Is playing to their potential. Having joy and love for their sport. And having the tools to navigate all of the things that happen as an athlete. That's elite performance. And in order to reach elite performance, athletes need three things. They need knowledge of their sport. They learn that as they kind of go through it. They need physical training. So they need to put in the reps, they need to go to practice. Hey, we can't get around that. And they need mental training. Mental training is their belief about themselves. The tools to navigate being an athlete. That part of their game is often overlooked. Yet most athletes say that 90% or more of their sport is mental. But why are we not training that part of the game? If it's so important? Which it is you you're awfully can be talented. You can have all the skills in the world. And maybe a coach has said this before. Like she is so talented. She just needs to believe in herself more. She has to get out of her own head. She needs to be more confident. Right though, that part of the game needs to be trained. So if you are like, yeah. Okay. This. This sounds right. I think that my daughter is ready to move forward with training this part of her game. Let's talk about three signs that she is ready and the best time to start. And also a little bit about how to introduce it to your athlete, because we actually don't want to go down this road of saying to your athlete, like, Hey, I think you could really need to work on your confidence. So, you know, I think you should do take this program to work on your confidence that is immediately going to shut her down and she's going to be like, no way. Do I want anything to do with that program or what you're talking about, mom? That sounds terrible. I don't want anyone to think that I have a lack of competence. And so how you approach it with your athlete is super important. And approaching it from this you know, this place of you want to get better. You have goals for yourself, the best athletes train their mind. Like they train their body. That is the approach that you take in order to help your athlete. And we have some resources for you. If you do want to go down that path we actually have a podcast episode talking all about how to get your daughter on board. With mental training. We have a conversation guide that you can. Follow for your athlete with tips on how to bring up the conversation. We have a couple of podcasts episodes for her to listen, to, to hear from me and hear from other athletes. So I will link all those resources below so that you can present it to her in a way that's like. Okay. Yes. I want to do this, not mom. Why don't you think I have any confidence? Okay, so sign number one, that she is ready for. Mental training is that she's interfered with entering what we call the prime age. So the prime age. Is around 11 to 12. So 11 to 12 is when we start to see athletes compete at higher levels, they start to have physical changes happening in their bodies, which can rock their confidence. Sometimes. And they start to compare a little bit more, then they're experiencing more of the normal parts of air sports. So their experience, a little more pressure, their coaches have higher expectations for them. They put some pressure on themselves because they feel like they have to perform so 11 to 12 is when we start to see this happening. And that's a really good time to introduce the mental training. Now in short, like muscle mental training should be introduced. I mean, as early as your athlete is ready for it. And we'll talk about what signs are for that. So we say between like five to 10 years old is actually when athletes can have some awareness of tools like their breath, breath, work goal, setting, visualization, talking about like the butterflies in their stomach as excitement, rather than nervousness of closing their eyes and seeing themselves. You know, play how they want to play. All of those things can actually start pretty young about like five to 10 introduced, introducing the idea that their brain is powerful and they actually don't have to believe everything that they think. Okay. 11 to 16. Is that time where they're ready for a more formal mentor training program, like the elite mental game. They are old enough to comprehend the concepts. They can. You know, apply them to situations that they're learning in their sport. I know that's a big range. If we're talking specifically about our signature mental training program called the elite mental game. The content applies to athletes from 11 to 16, plus like all the way to college. However, the live support that comes with the program, we do split that up by age that we can go a little bit deeper with specific things that athletes at different age groups are experiencing. But between 11 to 16, they are ready. Like they are ready because they are con like they can, you know, cognitively understand the concepts. They can apply it in situations. They're ready. All the green lights during that timeframe. Now if they are older than 16. Mental training should be a part of her daily routine. If it's not already. If your daughter is a junior or a senior in high school or a college athlete. She absolutely should be training her mind. And if she's not, she's probably getting passed up by athletes who are. And so if she is in that range, you. You know, she's late high school, early college, or if she's late high school and wants to play in college. yOu need to get her into some sort of situation where she is training her mind. And I don't mean that as a, you, you know, you are the parent, you get to do whatever you want, but I'm saying from the perspective of a coach, longtime coach, from a perspective of a mental performance coach athletes at this age are experiencing comparison. They are experiencing sometimes debilitating. Lack of belief in themselves. And if she doesn't have these tools, if she doesn't know how to navigate that, she at worst can end up burning out and quitting her sport. Like I did when I was a senior in high school without these skills. There was a happy ending. I did end up playing in college and, you know, got in touch with an amazing coach who taught the mental side of the game, which is where I learned that this is so, so important. But if your athlete doesn't have those skills at that age at worst, that is what could happen to her. And I bet she's playing below her potential. So there's a lot left on the table. So. To rehab five to 10 is when we can start introducing these skills. Sometimes in our program, we see athletes, you know, we have as young as eight, those athletes are like, they're competing at a high level. They're kind of unique right there. You know, We haven't seen like figure skaters or gymnasts in our program when they're eight or nine. Because they're just dealing with a lot of pressure in their sport, but between five and 10 is where we just kind of get athletes aware. I 11 to 16, there ready to go inside a more formal mentor training program. And then if they're above that age what are you waiting for? It's kind of my question there. Number two. So sign number two is that she's starting to experience the normal part of being an athlete. So if your athlete. Has come to you and she has expressed like, you know, I'm being nervous. I'm so nervous. And I don't know how to handle this, or you're noticing that she is playing better in practice than she is in games. She has some comparison. She's making mistakes and not knowing how to come back from them. Maybe she can only focus on the one to two things that went wrong in a competition. She beats herself up. Nothing's really good enough. She's maybe hesitating pulling back because she doesn't want to make mistakes. Or she has big goals and she's just not quite getting there. Right. She's she's saying she wants to play the next level or in college. And she's just, she's not quite, you know, doing everything that she needs to do to get there. Now we don't want to wait until we start seeing these things in our athletes necessarily. If you're like, well, she's actually doing pretty good. So maybe she's one of those unicorns that will just never deal with pressure. Never make a mistake and not know how to get over it or never compare herself. That won't happen. Sorry to burst your bubble. So it's best actually to front load these skills. And prepare your athlete for what's to come. So that you don't have to wait until the spirals happen. Wait until the pressure comes for her to be able to have these skills. It's almost like giving your kids. Swimming lessons before you put them into the deep end to tell them to swim. Right. We equip them with the skills beforehand. So mental training is best minutes. Front-loaded however, we have a lot of athletes. I mean, A lot of athletes that come in and they're already dealing with some of these things. And so for sure mental training happens and can be very, very effective. It is very effective if your athlete already is experiencing them. But if she's not, I don't want you to think, well, this is not for her. You are preparing her. You're preparing her. She's not immune to the hard times in her sport. She's not immune to pressure. She's not immune to comparison. She's not immune to coaches that sometimes they're terrible. She needs to know these skills before she gets into these situations and also for her to sustain the performance that she is showing right now. All right. Number three, she has goals. All right. If she has goals to level up she needs to be training her mind and some moms think like, well, once she gets to the next level, then she'll need this. Or then she'll be more confident. And the reality is that once she gets to that next level, More will be required of her. Once she gets on that team or place for that coach. More will be expected of her. And so the best time to learn these skills is actually when she's not struggling. And don't get me wrong. Like I said, these tools are absolutely applicable and will help athletes if you're like, well, she is in the pit right now and she needs help. Yeah. Okay. Get her help. But if you're like, she's not really struggling too much. Then it's actually a really great time to front load these skills and to lead with, Hey, I know what your goals are, and I want to do everything I can to support you in those goals. And one of these things is training the mental side of the game, just like the best athletes at any level. Do. There's a saying that says the best time to repair a roof is when a sunny. Best time to do those repairs the best time to reinforce. The good things that are happening the good part is when it's sunny, not when it's raining and pouring. Okay. And so make sure that if she does have bulls and if you want her to sustain. The confidence and the performance that she has right now, make sure she has those things that are front loaded. Okay. So to recap, mental training, Is best when she's between the ages of 11 to 17, 18, she's experiencing them in rural parts of being an athlete, or she has goals. Now, another question that I get is in season versus out of season. And I'll be honest, there's really not a wrong time to do Mount the train. You can not go wrong. Our program is great in season or out of season, but there's just some things to consider with both. So if your athlete is engaging in a more formal mental training program in season, She might not have as much time to commit to it, but the beautiful part about Bailey mental game is it actually only takes five to 10 minutes a week. You know, she goes through at her own pace, but even 5, 10, 10 minutes a week actually gets her results, but she can apply things real time. She can start to do those skills. Right away. Like she's got practice that night and she can do it. Okay. I want a season. She might not have as much as that of those opportunities, but she will, she still was probably training in some capacity. And so she can apply those skills in like lower stakes situation. She can build her mental skills and then when she gets into a season, they're ready for her. And then she also has. Lifetime access to the content inside our program. So she can actually go through the first phase. We actually recommend the athletes go through phase one and two. When they start new seasons. So really any time would be best. It all kind of depends on like what your capacity is, what her capacity is and what works best for your family. As far as the buy-in, like I said before, I'm going to link some resources below. We have a conversation guide to help that conversation go in the right direction. We have some podcasts episodes that she can listen to. We have a webpage for her to go to. And all of those with the angle of, Hey, I know that you have big goals. Or I know that you have told me that you want to work on this. Here is how I can support you in that. And let me do the work. Okay let her listen to the podcast episodes. Where I'm talking or I'm interviewing alumni of the program. So that it's not as much, you trying to convince her of something or you potentially telling her things like, you know, you don't have confidence or, you know, Her coming to you and saying, mom, do you not believe in me? And I'll all those things. Okay. So that buy-in actually can be really easy if you follow some of those tips inside the conversation guide, and again, lead from, Hey, this is actually going to help you reach your goals. Not from you have a lack of confidence and you need this. And also just connecting her with. Even like YouTube videos, podcasts, interviews, we have some on our podcast I have other athletes who are playing at a high level who are training their game. You will not find an athlete who plays at a high level or who has had any success. Not talk about dealing with pressure nerves and how they stay calm, how they stay focused, like all of those things that those athletes do to train their minds. So that's also a really powerful way that you can help get that. Buy-in. All right. Hopefully this was helpful. If you do have any other questions though, about, you know, is my daughter a good fit for our program, the lead mental game. Will she be able to benefit given this situation? Absolutely reach out to us at hello at elite competitor. Dot com and if your next step is to come inside the elite mental game with us. Doors are open right now at the time of this recording. So I will also drop the link for that below for you to join us and the hundreds of other moms and athletes who are leveling up and strengthening their mental game inside the program. All right, moms. That's a wrap I'm coach. Bri. I meant to performance coach for girl athletes, and I will see you in the next episode of raising elite competitors podcast.