Whenever I speak to athletes and coaches, I ask them how important the mind is to athletic success. With few exceptions, the response is that the mind is as or more important than the physical and technical side of sport. I am obviously biased given what I do for a living, so I won’t take a position on which I believe is more important. Okay, they’re all important. And the mind is an essential piece of the athletic performance puzzle that is often neglected.
Yet, when I ask these same athletes and coaches how much time and energy is devoted to mental preparation, they indicate not very much and certainly not as much as it deserves. Moreover, any attempts at doing mental training is typically scattershot, inconsistent, and mostly disconnected from other aspects of athlete development.
Herein lies my question: Why isn’t mental training treated the same as physical and technical training in sports? When compared to its physical and technical counterparts, mental training clearly has second-class status. While just about every sports programs, from youth teams to colleges and the pros in every sport have full-time technical and conditioning coaches, few have mental training programs at all and even fewer have mental coaches on staff. Moreover, when mental training is offered, its presence is vastly different from the physical conditioning and technical regimens that athletes benefit from.
Let’s consider what makes physical conditioning and technical development effective and then compare it to the use of mental training in athletic today. Three key elements stand out.
To learn more, watch Prime Sport vlog segment #2 here.