Mental Performance Coaching Articles

Mental Coach for Athletes

Eli Straw
Mental Coach for Athletes

A mental coach will teach you the skills you need to develop a strong mindset. By working with a mental coach, you will identify what's keeping you from performing your best, and figure out a way to unlock your full potential.

In this article, you will learn what a mental coach is and how one will benefit you as an athlete.

What is A Mental Coach for Athletes?

Sports are competitive. As a result, they have a tremendous impact on your mindset. Likewise, your mindset has a tremendous impact on how well you compete.

What a mental coach does is work with you to build the mental skills you need to succeed. But they will also work with you to identify and overcome any mental game challenges you may be struggling with.

A mental coach is someone you can talk to and be honest with about what's bothering you...something that can be difficult to find as an athlete.

When you’re competing and dealing with a lot of anxiety or fear, this is likely not something you want to tell your coaches about. You may not even feel comfortable telling your teammates about it.

This type of thinking can happen because you want to appear tough. You also may not want to give your coach a reason to bench you or to have less confidence in your ability to go out there and compete.

A mental coach serves as someone who you can feel comfortable talking to about any challenges you may be dealing with. But what's even better is that they will also be the one who shows you how to overcome those challenges.

In terms of building mental skills, you can think of a mental coach for athletes like you do a strength and conditioning coach. Only, instead of building your physical strength, they will help you build mental strength.

It's by building these mental skills that many of the benefits of working on your mindset are gained.

What are the Benefits of Working With a Mental Coach?

Working on your mindset will have a positive impact on your performance. That's because, the stronger you are mentally, the greater chance you have to succeed on the field or court.

Here are the main benefits you can expect from mental coaching...

  • Increased Confidence
  • Improved Focus
  • Increased Motivation
  • Greater Resilience
  • A Calmer Mindset
  • The Ability to Perform Under Pressure
  • More Emotional Control
  • Positive Self-Talk
  • Greater Composure
  • Reduced Anxiety & Fear

When you start to experience greater confidence, or improve focus, for example, that will lead to greater success for you as an athlete. That's what you can expect from working with a mental coach.

The reason these benefits occur is because of the mental skills you will work on developing.

What Mental Skills Will You Gain?

When you work with a mental coach, the main focus will be on developing positive mental skills. These skills include…

  • Proactive Confidence: to perform your best, you need to be confident. To build this kind of confidence, we focus on daily actions you can take to proactively strengthen your confidence.
  • Goal Setting: you will learn proper goal setting techniques you can use, both on a large scale, and on a small scale (such as for a practice or a game).
  • Focus: centering your attention and controlling what you're thinking about is a key piece to your success. You will learn how to build the skill of focus during practices and games.
  • Self-Motivation: understanding your motivation is a great skill, especially when it's followed by you learning how to motivate yourself better with it. 
  • Relaxation Techniques: whenever you're anxious or fearful, one of the best things you can do is get yourself relaxed. With mental coaching, you will learn powerful relaxation techniques you can use on a daily basis and during games.
  • Mental Rehearsal: this involves a practice known as visualization, where you imagine yourself performing in your mind. It works to build confidence, and develop trust in your ability to perform.
  • Coping with Failure: this is a skill all athletes need. No matter what, you are going to be faced with failure. You need to know how to manage this type of adversity and not allow it to lower your confidence or reduce your motivation.
  • Performing Under Pressure: you will learn how to use certain mental strategies to focus, relax, and feel confident in pressure filled and stressful situations. You will also learn how you can reframe what you see as pressure.
  • Controlling Your Frustration: when you make a mistake during a game it's easy to get upset. But what typically happens is that you get upset over one mistake, which then causes you to make another mistake. So, you must learn how to control the frustration you feel after a mistake.
  • Enjoyment: no matter how old you are or what sport you play, the more you enjoy your sport, the better you will perform. You will learn how to focus on what you enjoy and find more satisfaction from your sport.

Should You Work With a Mental Coach?

As an athlete, after reading over the benefits of mental coaching and the skills you will develop, the next question you are probably asking is if you should work with a mental coach.

As a mental coach, I have determined there are two main approaches athletes take to working on their mindset. Both of which are great reasons to work with a mental coach, and both of which lead to the benefits listed above.

The two approaches include a proactive approach and a reactive approach.

A proactive approach recognizes the benefits working on your mindset will have on your game. You know that the stronger you are mentally, the greater you will perform.

So, you proactively begin to strengthen your mindset.

In contrast, a reactive approach involves you realizing there is something holding you back. You are performing well in practice, but during games you're a different player.

There is a mental block keeping you from performing, so you work with a mental coach to overcome that block.

Both of the approaches will result in you learning mental skills that will lead to the benefits listed above, and ultimately more success for you as an athlete.

How to Get Started Working With a Mental Coach?

Mental coaching for athletes involves weekly coaching calls performed in person or virtually. During these coaching sessions I will work with you on overcoming any challenges you may be facing and begin building more positive mental skills.

Following each session, you will be given action steps to complete that week. These action steps serve as a way for you to begin putting the tools you've learned into practice.

It is through the combination of the coaching sessions and the action steps where true progress is made.

If you are ready to take the next step and get started with mental coaching please fill out the form below.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

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Please contact us to learn more about mental coaching and to see how it can improve your mental game and increase your performance. Complete the form below, call (252)-371-1602 or schedule an introductory coaching call here.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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