Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mental Plans

As a kid, for five straight summers starting at age 13 I went to basketball camp at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. After graduating from high school, I became a counselor and later a coach at the camp for a grand total of 14 summers. The head coach at the time was Bruce Haroldson and each of those 14 summers he had us watch a basketball video done by Bob Knight. In the video, Coach Knight says, "The mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1... Let me say that again. The mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1." I am not a big gambler (the NCAA doesn't allow me in the first place), but I would bet dollars to pennies that most of you coaches would agree with Coach Knight's statement. So how many coaches teach mental training?

This past summer I was blessed to work Coaching U Live where internationally known writer/speaker on sport psychology, Spencer Wood, was a featured speaker. Spencer spoke to this quandary of coaches focusing only on physical training, yet they know that Coach Knight's statement is true. I have also been blessed to have been mentored by Dr. Jon Hammermeister at Eastern Washington University, who also serves as a sport psychologist for the US Olympic Ski Team. He echoes the tremendous benefits of mental training and how it can give your athletes that added edge.

The following are notes taken from Dr. Hammermeister on developing a system of mental plans aimed at athletes:


Develop a list of problem situations (e.g. individual, opponents, teammates, coaches) and strategies to deal with them effectively or to avoid problems that prevent you from performing at your best or maintaining Ideal Psychological State (ISP) in practice and competition.

Pre-Practice/Pre-Competitive Readiness Plans:
-Physical Warm-up
-Psychological warm-up (to get to IPS)
-Start prep-physical
-Start prep-psychological

Psychological Warm-Up:
1. Positive realistic self-talk
2. Imagery
3. Preparation routine
4. Arousal control
5. Goal-setting/adjustment

Practice and Competitive Focus plans:
1. Mastery component - Absolute perfect scenario
2. Coping component - What are you going to do when you go in the tank?

Why Develop Mental Plans?

1. Strengthen feeling of being prepared to solidify confidence
2. Avoid intrusion of self-defeating thoughts
3. Develop desirable pre-event "feeling state" --Activation level and focus

1. Event focus
2. Event refocus
3. Extending limits

Implementing Mental Plans:
1. Write out mental plans in as much detail as possible.
2. use imagery to rehearse using your mental plan in competition.
3. Use mental plan in low-stress competition.
4. Evaluate effectiveness of mental plan before and during competition.
*Keep process goals in mind and successfully achieve them.
**Positive and motivated feeling state -- where you perform the best, not where you necessarily feel the best.
-Highly confident
-Mentally calm
-Self-talk positive and limited
-Mind on automatic pilot
-No distractions
5. Refine mental plan based on your evaluation.
6. Continue implementing mental plans, evaluating and refining plans until satisfied.

Practice Focus Plan
How can I accomplish my goals?
- What do I have to do?
- What are the roadblocks to prevent me from reaching those goals? How can i overcome them?

**Mastery Component - When everything is going perfectly, this is how it will go to plan.

**Coping Component - When not everything is going well, how do I deal? What is my plan for how things will go? Am I prepared to stay focused?

Competition Focus Plan
**Mastery Situations - Plan for how to stay focused
-Beginning to end of first half
-Beginning of second half to the end of the game
-Score or run

**Coping Situations - Plan for preventing need to refocus
-Called foul or violation
-Poor officiating

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