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Mental Toughness Training

In my many years of dealing with athletes and studying human behavior, I have found that Mental Toughness is an area of the game that is severely neglected today. I like to make sure that my athletes fine tune their body and their game skills, but most importantly, their mind. A player is only as good as their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) at any given moment. Conditioning the mental muscle may very well be the most defining aspect of training with me. I focus on four major areas which include the following based on the findings of Spencer Wood PhD:  


  During the course of an athletes journey, they must learn to deal with mistakes and adversity. It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up that matters the most. I condition athletes to bounce back with toughness and encourage self-efficacy when facing challenges. Clutch poise and recognizing their emotional states are important for maintaining a consistent performance. Athletes must learn to overcome nervousness and deal with anxiety before they are put into those types of situations. They must find their own elite performance "zone" as well as gaining control of the "state of flow" as studied by esteemed psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. We will work on mastering pressure situations and drill home the keys to performance consistency.    


  I take the time to equip players with the keys to big game focus. Not everyone can handle the next level the moment they arrive so I try to prevent this issue ahead of time. We have numerous discussions during training that teach my trainees how to avoid the choking phenomenon. I use the power of visualization to help learn to master focus under pressure and what is needed to control many of the game's common distractions. A major mistake players make is focusing on the results instead of the process that achieves the result so, I teach them how to mindful enough to stay in "the present" and maximize all efforts to achieve their goals.  


  Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant didn't just wake up one day with a clutch gene, they had a clear picture of the keys to big game confidence. This is something that has to be taught to an athlete as they grow in both skill level and mental toughness. Athletes must understand what having a deep self-belief system will do for their game and overall career. While I find it important to stress developing real toughness under pressure, I equally believe it's crucial to enforce effective ways to improve the way an athlete practices as well. One of the best things a player can do is to learn from the best pros and olympians and I show them what qualities and habits to look for.  


  Most players today don't really understand what it takes to become an elite player which is an area I don't sugarcoat at all. I'm straight up honest about this. No matter if your athlete is 8 or 28, I will boldface tell you if they are heading in the right direction to reach the goal they have set for themselves. I help athletes develop a true vision of excellence because a half-hearted effort simply won't cut it in today's game. I try to hand my trainees the keys to self-driven accountability along with lessons on how to avoid the most common pitfalls of commitment. My focus is to show my athletes what championship level commitment looks like and how they can develop and true mental toughness training plan of action. Finally, I want my people to know how to tap into their own internal motivation because I can only influence people to do the things they are already motivated to do.
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