Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. He recently led a teleseminar with Fred Engh about "How to avoid and overcome the issues that can ruin your child's youth sports experience." Find out more information about this teleseminar or Dr. Jacob's other audio programs at winnersunlimited.com.
Coaches will have to have the knowledge and experience to know what to do in certain situations. However, if you ever listen to interviews with athletes on victorious teams, there will always be references to the importance of teamwork, trust and confidence.
Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. He has graciously contributed an article he recently wrote about mental toughness. He also will be leading a teleseminar with Fred Engh about "How to avoid and overcome the issues that can ruin your child's youth sports experience." Information can be found at winnersunlimited.com--click on 'Seminars' to sign up.
As a sport psychologist, I have dealt with numerous issues over the years related to sportsmanship, proper coaching and parenting.
It is quite common for a parent or coach to discuss with me issues about motivation with young athletes, when should you push them and when should you ease off on them. Almost always the topic of winning comes into play.
[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/dr_jac_blog_photo.jpg]Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. He has graciously contributed an article he recently wrote about mental toughness. He also will be leading a teleseminar with Fred Engh about "How to avoid and overcome the issues that can ruin your child's youth sports experience." Information can be found at winnersunlimited.com--click on 'Seminars' to sign up.
How do we get psyched up, motivated or aroused to compete? You have to be ready, focused and mentally hungry if you want to give yourself the best chance to come out on top of an athletic competition.
Two of the most common questions I am asked as a sport psychologist are: "What do I need to do to become mentally tougher? How can I get a better attitude than my opponent and mentally
These are not easy questions to answer. However, the answers have a lot to do with your "mental makeup" and the way you were taught as a youngster to handle winning and losing, success and failure.
As a sport psychologist, I have had clients bring in all kinds of issues to discuss. Whether it is something related to concentration, an issue with performance anxiety or excessive nervousness before competition, or how to deal with demanding coaches or teammates, there always is a commonality with the issue of being mentally strong enough to weather
Mental toughness relates to your ability to handle adversity, to perform when the pressure is on and to be focused enough that you are able to block out all of the negativity and adversity you may face in the heat of competition. In today's constantly growing world of youth sports,
we all too often hear stories about kid's coaches who scream, yell and get out of control at practices and at games.
Often, the rationale these coaches use when describing their behavior is that their team needed discipline, guidance and sometimes, "the fear of God placed on them." I have heard many youth coaches explain their kids were weak and needed to understand what hard work was because it would make them stronger as they get older and that they needed to know who was in charge. Their explanations often end with the comment that their demands would make these kids mentally tougher as they grew up.
Mental toughness does not develop from fear. I believe it develops from one's ability to understand their own personal motivations to succeed. "Mentally tough" athletes usually are the ones who don't flinch when the pressure is on. They look forward to coming up with the bases loaded and their team down by three runs in the bottom of the ninth. They want to have the ball in their hands with five seconds left and their team down by two.
They are also the ones who will step up and volunteer to hit the 10-foot putt to win the tournament for the team. Some may argue that mentally tough athletes are born. Although, some are, I believe we can learn to develop mental strengths by experience and growth as young athletes. When a young athlete fails, a coach has two choices. The coach can degrade the athlete and tell him about how bad he was. Or he can use this as a "teachable moment" and help the athlete understand how this failure can be overcome.
By "teaching" the athlete in this situation, rather than scolding them, I believe you can help them build up their confidence and in turn, help the athlete become hungrier to go back out on the athletic field and compete again. The more you "teach" and "coach" the athlete that failures are inevitable in athletic competition, and that they are not situations to be afraid of, but rather situations that can make us stronger and in turn, more successful, I believe the athlete will learn and be hungrier to be placed in these situations as they get older.
Consequently, they will be developing the mental toughness to handle adversity and eventually, want to be up to bat when the game is on the line, because they will want to take the challenge and see if they can beat it, rather than have it beat them.
Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. We talked to him recently about the role of sports psychology, the mental challenges an athlete participating in *World Cup 2006 *might face, and what things athletes of any skill level can do mentally to improve their performance.
How does sports psychology affect the outcome of a game?
When teams match up the one that is mentally stronger is the one who more than likely will do better. You must be ready to deal with adversity. If you've got a mental game plan then when you fall behind you don't freak out.
Quite frankly one of the biggest issues is not dealing with success but in dealing with adversity and failure. We don't teach people how to lose but what to do when they lose and how to handle it.
Looking at the World Cup specifically--what kinds of mental challenges will the US National Team face being on the road in Germany?
One of the big things I work with athletes on is how you get yourself mentally prepared. Mental preparation involves not just focusing right before the game but also how you prepare the week before.
Talking about the World Cup team specifically one of the challenges they will face is being able to acclimate themselves. You've got to know how to deal with things like changes in time, schedule, and culture.
When I was with the cycling team in Italy I remember the guys were freaking out about things like drinking warm soda. (They don't put ice in their soda in Europe.) You've got to be able to deal with being away from friends and family and not letting cultural changes affect you.
There is no doubt that you have heard many coaches, and even more quotes by pro ball players, talk about how important the mental aspect is to the game of baseball.
Then why isn't mental training taught more by coaches?
I have no idea. Maybe you can offer a suggestion.
I will let you in on an inside "secret" that will enable you to take your game to the next level. A secret so powerful that you will have the ability to put your body on auto-pilot and let your instincts take over...almost at will!
What is this secret?...Visualization.
Yeah I know you have heard the word thrown around many times, but did anyone tell you how to apply it? Probably not.
Here is a simple three- step solution so you can become a visualization master.
1. Close you eyes and picture in your head the best swing you ever took. The best pitch you ever threw. The best play you ever made. It does not matter. Just see that perfect play and "watch" it over and over in your head.
Do this with as much detail as possible. The smell, the sky, the crowd, the catcher pounding his glove. You get the idea. As much detail as possible.
2. Ok now that you have that perfect play in mind take it into the on deck circle, the pitcher's mound or the field. You will want to practice this as much as possible. The more you do it the better you get (as do the results!) If you do not feel comfortable using the visualization techniques in a game just yet, work on them in practice or exibition games.
Now just take that perfect play and "plug in" the pitcher or batter and the current surroundings. See yourself take that perfect swing. Feel yourself launch that perfect fastball on the black.
See it over and over. When you are good you will be able to do this in split seconds. I used to do it between every pitch! And I teach my students to do the same.
3. Let your body take over! Your body knows what to do considering all of the practice time you put in. It is the mind that gets in the way. Not any more!
It's really that simple once you master this awesome technique. Do yourself and give it a try. You will certainly thank me.
+(Jon Doyle is a former NCAA All-American baseball player who now works as a strength and conditioning specialist. For more tips check out [www.baseballtrainingsecrets.com|http://www.baseballtrainingsecre