Have you ever taken the time to mentally prepare yourself before practice? This question is most often asked of athletes, because most mental skills are geared towards the peak performance of athletes, NOT coaches. Interestingly, the psychological preparation tactics that athletes use, can also be utilized by coaches to create strong teams, more composed athletes, as well as resilience, increased personal well-being, and composure in you, the coach.
If we ourselves want to be composed alongside our athletes, we first need to really understand what it means to be composed. Back in the 1600s the idea of composure came to fruition. Although mostly used in terms of music, we can find the word delicately infused into the idea of presentations, demonstrations, social situations and, of course, athletics. Simply defined, composure means, “the state of being calm and in control of oneself.” If one is able to demonstrate composure, often one feels composed and vice versa. Therefore, to teach this, we must be this. Coaches cannot expect an athlete to be composed under pressure if they are unable to remain calm themselves.
Use these Four Modern Coaching Process Tips to get started on coaching more mindfully and, in turn, create athletes unbreakable to internal and external pressures.
Create your character as a coach
A grounded sense of who you are as a coach, which includes your morals and values and the type of characteristics you want to express in your coaching, will lay the foundation for effective and skillful interactions with your students. John Wooden created a pyramid of characteristics that successful people oftentimes portray, and among these, he suggested poise, presence and self-discipline as three great starting points. If these don’t necessarily resonate with you, write down your three top values as a coach. You can simply remind yourself daily of your most valuable characteristics by using personal mantras such as, “I am composed. I will implement self-discipline while coaching. I can help my athletes remain calm and focused.” Believe it and repeat it.
Write daily assignments for your athletes
Daily assignments not only help an athlete focus on the important things in practice but also add a sense of accomplishment through the workout. Assignments should be done within a certain time frame. For example, it should take no longer than 45 minutes to complete two drills, five of each skill and three routines etc. Most importantly, if they are not done within this time, go over what needs to be done to get them accomplished on time, what the process is to make up the uncompleted work, and what corrections should be emphasized for the athlete’s next visualization session and practice. Set clear guidelines about these procedures by posting them on a board and/or emailing them prior to the beginning of season.
Daily challenges in sport are what we train to avoid in competition. Simply stated, we work to iron out the wrinkles to wear your best shirt for the show. As a coach, your show is every day at practice because the show at the competition is primarily for the athletes. Therefore, you need to be prepared to put your best foot forward when it counts, every day. To be prepared, visualize yourself coaching your athletes a couple of minutes at each event – the beginning, middle and end; warm-ups, basics and actual skills. This will increase your confidence and the athlete’s confidence in you, decrease the tendency to overreact, and allow you to recognize and point out the most important corrections. You may even consider sitting down with the athletes while they visualize their routines and use this time to visualize your own performance as a coach. This serves an additional bonus of walking the talk. You’re not just asking your athletes to visualize. You model the behavior, as well.
Have you ever rehearsed what type of response you will have when a certain situation occurs in practice? The American Red Cross (first aid) has a script for all first responders. As a coach, you are the first responder to your athlete. Thus, you need a script prepared for peak performance coaching on a daily basis. This is the perfect way to ensure effective responses in pressure-packed situations. Consider role-playing in the following situations: when an athlete becomes frustrated, is experiencing fear, is not paying attention, or is battling injury.
Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment! Remember, these are skills that take time and practice. A few minutes every day can help create well-balanced coaches and athletes that exhibit composure on and off the competitive floor.