While many of the college football programs, and some high school programs, have their players in the weight room, engaged in various drills or even participating in scrimmages, this would also be the perfect time to take the players through a mental skills training program. From learning how to visualize and mentally rehearse one’s performances to practicing deep breathing and the use of affirmations, the spring season offers more flexibility in scheduling, and also more free time, for the coaches to work with their players on the mental game. At every team meeting, weight room session, daily drills or during those scrimmages, the coaches can incorporate different mental skills drills and exercises on any given day during the spring season.
Spring season is a great time for the coaches to talk to their players about the importance of setting goals for the upcoming season. It will give the players time to think about the various elements of their training and conditioning, and identify not only what they want to do but just as importantly identify the steps that they want to take from spring and throughout the summer to reach the goals that they have set for themselves. And it gives the players the necessary amount of time and space to get themselves mentally and physically prepared to raise their game to the next level.
I would highly recommend that the coaching staff take all the players through a 6-step process called “reaching your mental peak”. What you are doing is showing your players how they can empower themselves and find a greater sense of enjoyment through all the different elements of the spring season. And it can all begin with the players learning how to play with a sense of purpose. This is where your players remember and recommit themselves to why they are athletes and what they love about playing the game.
The remaining five steps are playing with the right perspective, playing with a presence of mind, playing with poise, playing with passion and playing with perseverance. You will be giving them the necessary mental skills tools that will help them climb the “mental prep mountain” so that when the fall season arrives and its game-time, your players will be mentally strong, and will be mentally ready to make smart decisions – on and off the field.
Also, if I could mention this, the spring season not only provides an opportunity to work with your team on the mental game but should offer your coaching staff a chance to talk to all the players about various life management skills. For example, they need to learn how to find a sense of balance between their sports and academics. The players need to understand how to appropriately handle social media, and not put themselves or their team in any embarrassing situations. They can gain a better understanding of how to develop and maintain healthy relationships with the other students on campus. And these players can learn how to improve their diet and physical health.
Anthony Lanzillo is a regular contributor to the FirstDown PlayBook Community site and also has created a mental preparation tool for athletes called The Mental Tune-Up. It is a great tool and resource for getting your players to make a commitment to becoming mentally stronger and tougher. If you would like more information on this tool, drop Anthony an email at risson1954@gmail. He has designed this process for 30, 60 or 90 days. Check out his website here at Thementalpeak.com