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Setting your mindset...before you train.

Often, when I speak with other coaches involved in high level coaching I bounce questions or ideas off of them to challenge my own understanding and frameworks. A month or so ago I asked a coach that I respect a lot the following question: What is something any athlete should do before training everyday? Here was his answer…

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Identify which mindset is going to be helpful for your training each day.

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Something I believe a lot of developing athletes (regardless of age) have trouble with is separating training/practice from performing, they expect perfection from themselves too often. While this mistake is very normal, I don’t doubt that a large factor in this is the environment that they are used to being in. As such, coaches, we must ask ourselves: Is the environment we are leading reflecting growth and development or is it reflecting performance? There is a time and place for each type, but we must be cognizant of both; what we are wanting, as well as what we are delivering.

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While sometimes you need to perform in training in order to get the opportunity to play, generally speaking training is about developing and getting better. Shifting your mindset away from the old adage of ‘perfect practice’ while developing is crucial. Development is meant to be a bit messy sometimes, in fact, the sweet spot for learning and developing a new skill is a success rate of around 60-70%. If you are successful more than 70-80% of your attempts you are likely doing a task that is too easy and isn’t going to challenge you enough to drive development. And if you are well below that 60% mark you are potentially trying something that is too hard, and the lack of success may lead to a decrease in motivation to keep trying.

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Now back to the point of setting your mindset prior to training - this is for both players and coaches by the way. If you know you are heading into a training session where you are learning/introducing a new movement, skill, drill, you need to have the mindset of development and growth and be ready for failure to present itself. This shift in mindset changes the expectation of the outcome and brings about more fortitude in training.

Coaches and athletes, you likely should have a plan b or c (to decrease or increase the difficulty) ready to go depending on how things are looking. In the strength and conditioning environment a simple way to challenge someone is by putting more weight on the bar, or by adding speed to a movement. What is a simple way you can increase or decrease the difficulty of a new skill/drill in your environment?

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So when do you set your mindset for training? Ideally you should prep your mindset well before you begin your training session. If you have a well organized coach, you may know the theme of the practice ahead of time and this will give you an opportunity to ask yourself: Which mindset is going to be helpful for my training today? Then you can start to prepare your mental state while you are warming up your body - I will expand on this in another blog…

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Thanks for reading!

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