Adolescent student-athletes have a lot going on and the time spent on mental training can reap huge dividends on the court and in the classroom. High school and intercollegiate athletics can play an important role in the development of young people and their learning skills.
The Role of Mental Training
Generally speaking, a coach should determine the following about his or her team:
- how the players get focused
- how the players get energized
- how the players relax
- what makes the players physically anxious
- what makes players mentally uptight
Throughout the season, the coach must push different buttons; sometimes getting ready for a game means getting energized, other times it requires relaxation. Obviously, the coach should know what causes anxiety among the student-athletes (IV & V) so it can be avoided.
Mental Training Strategies
A combination of different strategies assists diverse athletes perform at their best:
- The Sports Competition Anxiety Inventory (SCAT) and the Competitive States Anxiety Inventory (CSAI-II): Tests designed by Rainer Martens that monitor how players are progressing throughout the season and deal with concerns before they boil over.
- The Ideal Performance State and Pre-Competition Routines: Doing the little things in order to prepare for games and tournaments.
- Internal/External Locus of Control: Understanding what the athlete can control and focusing on that, instead of worrying about distractions beyond their control.
- Mindfulness: Being present in the moment – without distractions – and using parasympathetic responses such as deep breathing and assertive statements to control somatic and cognitive anxiety.
- Mental visualization and Imagery: Pre-playing and re-playing games, forming a mental picture of success and how to achieve it.
- Goal Setting: Visualizing the successful outcome of a goal and breaking it down into smaller, measurable behaviours.