As we prepare and develop our Individualized Annual Training Plan’s the first question we ask are what mental skills does this athlete need to develop in order to achieve the goals set for a season.
We ask this question first because the mental game is often the area that lets an Athlete down. This is because to often mental skills and training the mind is overlooked in development of athletes, especially junior athletes.
As a coach i have at times been slack in training my athletes in the mental skills needed for success. But lets be honest: Training mental skills is essential to ensuring success in sport. So it makes sense to give it prime place of focus in the annual training plan. So no more letting this area slid. This year it comes first.
The mental/psych skills an athlete needs to develop in order to become exceptional are as follows:
Drive: How much do you want to play the game? Do you want to practice outside of scheduled practices? Do you eat sleep breath the sport sometimes to the neglect of of other things? This is drive. Sometimes drive is innate and develops at a very young age, sometimes it is slow to develop and will not show up until the teenage years
Passion: Do you love the sport? To the extent that you would be willing to sacrifice other things for it? There needs to be balance in sport but you have to love it in order to excel!
Stability: Can you tolerate stress? An athlete need’s to be able to cope with the large amount of stress that comes with training and competition. An ability to adapt to obstacles without always being pushed to your stress limit is vital. This emotional skill can be trained, and it is essential to succeed. So if you don’t have it, put in the work required to develop it!
Mental toughness: This is both drive and stability coupled with self esteem and ability to control confidence. Successful athletes have this ability to feel good about themselves, or at least have enough confidence to believe they will have a good performance, without being destroyed when they meet a bad performance. Mental Toughness is a deep down knowledge that despite it all they are good at what they do! An idea of “i know what i’m doing, i’m going to do it, no one and nothing can stop me”
Positive attitude: An athlete with a good positive attitude has a mindset, despite things going wrong, where they believe they can still pull it out and win, or recover from a not so great competition to come back in the next one and excel. So important to maintain that positive attitude and mindset to excel at sports.
Realism: An athlete who excels is positive and confident but also realistic about their current ability. They are able to identify weaknesses to be worked on. They learn from experiences, both positive and negative and use those experiences to make themselves better
Focus: The ability to block out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Ability to zone in on one thing completely! This skill is essential for Archers and every athlete should include the development of this skill in their annual training plan
Effort: Exceptional athletes work hard both in practice and in competition. Many athletes will give there all in competition but the truly exceptional give there all in every training session. They are the first there and the last to leave. They are the ones willing to put in extra training time, or do extra strength work or practice outside of scheduled requirements They go above and beyond the bare minimum required. Being exceptional takes time and hard work and these athletes put in the effort to achieve it! If you know you don’t put in effort all the time, put this skill down as one to work on developing this season!
Persistence: Even when it is going poorly persistent and athletes keep doing whatever it is they are supposed to do. Even when it looks like it’s never going to happen they trust that if they keep practicing to perfect technique they will perform at a high level eventually Even when it doesn’t look like that is the case right now. They learn that mistakes happen, things go wrong and they can adapt to the situations before them, they don’t give up when things don’t go as they expect.
Competitiveness: Exceptional athletes like to win and will often drive themselves until they are the best/do win. They are competitive in practice, and competitive in competition. They want to excel!
Resiliency: The ability to cope with whatever comes your way. Not just to cope with it but to overcome and excel in the face of it. This is necessary as in sport thing’s often will not go the way that we expect them to go, if we are resilient we will take whatever comes at us in one stride and continue performing at our best regardless!
Exceptional athletes need to learn how to work, develop and hone there mental and emotional skills just as much as they do there physical skills. The key to annual planing is ascertaining which of the above skills needs the most development to ensure success and, once identified, find time within the training plan to focus on them.
Say we identify Focus as essential skills for development we would ask: We first ask what level of importance (and thus how much time) do we allocate to the development of the skill:
Secondly we ask: What drills, skills, seminars, training and reading material can we utilize to improve that area:
I would say that for any young archer the development of Focus is vital. And thus we should be setting aside regular time for the development of this skill.
Drills to develop this skill: Meditation, Mindful Breathing and Visualization and Concentration excercises.
Seminars/Books/Training material to use:
USOC guided meditatiation and relaxation mediaton cd’s.
Information on Mindful Breathing:
Larry Bassham “with winning in mind” book
Annual Plan time: Worth setting aside daily time for the training and development of Focus through a varied timetable of concentration excercises, visulisation, and meditation
Join us again shortly for part 3 of developing the annual training plan.