However as a mental skills coach I also recognize that without similar time and energy focused on understanding then mastering the mental side of the game no athlete will ever truly reach his/her full potential...it simply is not possible.
As I cover in my new book, How She Thinks is How She Plays, at a certain level of competition you will find that most of the players are physically sound and know how to play the game. By 15 or 16 most players at the elite travel or competitive levels of any sport have pretty much mastered the physical side of their game. After playing the game for ten plus years these players have had enough physical training to allow them to play the game well, even very well.
However, at this stage of a player's career (and sometimes a year or two younger) many of them peak; meaning their game doesn't get any better. In short these players have advanced as far as they can with physical training alone. So where do they go next?
At this stage of an athlete's career the only place he/she can turn to is mental skills training. So often I see elite "physical" players who are not yet elite "mental" players. These are the athletes who can't seem to play at a consistently high level from week to week or from game to game. These are the athletes who tend to choke in the big game or big at bat. These are the players who the recruiters look at and say "wow" one day and "whoa" the next!
To reiterate I am 110% on board with as much physical training as it takes for your athlete to master the physical side of the game. Drills, private skills lessons, speed, agility or conditioning training I absolutely support. Why? Because a young athlete needs it to master the game!
Unfortunately focusing on physical training alone is like painting a portrait in black and white; the true colors of your athlete's potential will only come out on the canvas if he/she also focuses on their mental training.
As a game coach and mental skills coach I often connect competence with confidence. I believe the two are intertwined in a sort of cause and effect type relationship. I believe that confidence breed competence. I also believe that competence breeds confidence. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? You can't have one without the other.
Well I believe the same concept is true with both physical training and mental training...your athlete needs them both to be optimally confident and competent. And the great thing about mastering both the physical and mental is that your athlete will quickly become a far more consistent performer who actually loves playing the game. Her/his confidence and competence will soar and recruiters will be lined up at your door!