As parents and coaches we spend countless hours and dollars on our athlete's mastery of the physical side of the sport. But, in my mind, physical training alone is simply not enough to make him a consistent peak performer. The inevitable failures that each player must overcome in fastpitch can snowball into more mistakes in an ever increasing downward performance spiral unless he possesses specific mental skills mastery.
Here are my Top 10 Mental Performance Killers that can absolutely sabotage your athlete's success:
1. Lack of Mental Focus or Present Moment Awareness- Unable to adequately concentrate at the pivotal "crunch time" moments of the game. Engaged in future or past focus.
2. Fear & Anxiety- Afraid of failure, embarrassment, disappointing parents, coach, teammates or self. Unable to control anxiety, adrenalin, focus causing a drop in performance.
3. Unmanageable Expectations- Burdened by excessive and unreasonable expectations on her performance by parents, coaches, teammates or self; accelerates anxiety, frustration and self-judgment.
4. Lack of Self-Confidence- Characterized by self-doubt, negative self talk, expectations of failure versus success.
5. Results versus Effort Thinking- Focusing on results only minimizes the value of his effort and minimizes learning opportunities.
6. Lack of Trust- Can cause hesitancy in making a decision on the field and always leads to failure.
7. Lack of clear Motivation and Commitment- A potential disconnect between player and parent; unwilling to do whatever it takes to get better.
8. Lack of a clear and concise Plan for pre-game, in-game and post-game- Having a mental and physical game plan improves self-confidence and performance.
9. Not Recognizing her Controllables- Which factors does she have control over in the game and which factors does she not? Knowing this will lower her anxiety and self-judgment.
10. Expecting Failure (Catastrophe Thinking)- The most detrimental type of thinking; truly expecting the worst case scenario every time. Can bleed into all areas of her life.
All of these Top 10 Mental Performance Killers are covered at length in my new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays (read a sample chapter). It is vitally important that you recognize that there are specific reasons for your athlete's inconsistency on the playing field. It all starts with her thoughts, feelings and beliefs about her/himself and the game.
If the game is 90% mental as some say how much focus does your athlete spend there?