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Coaches Q & A: What Does a Mental Performance Program Look Like for Your Team

Coaches Q & A: What Does a Mental Performance Program Look Like for Your Team


I’m sure by now you have realized that your athletes don’t always perform at their peak potential. You put in all of the hours working on fitness, technique, and tactics; but then, on match day, their focus, confidence, or energy just isn’t there. The mental part of the game has let them down. Hiring a mental performance coach becomes a great idea to help the athletes understand, manage, and train the mental part of their sport. 

Here are the main questions coaches ask when looking to work with a mental performance coach: 


How long are the sessions? 

Sessions should be an hour- minimum. If we have more time, an hour and a half would be great. 


Are 1 hour or 1.5 hour sessions too long for my athletes? 

I have spent several years as a high school teacher, professor, and speaker. I know how to structure time so that the athletes stay engaged. I have also found that athletes yearn for this information and once they find the connection to themselves, they have no problem listening, discussing, and applying the practices learned in the session.


How do you keep them engaged? 

Just like a good coach will do for their team, 1- I keep everyone involved 2- progress through the lesson in a structured way and 3-switch up the activity and the mode in which they are participating. 

We move through activities where they are listening to the presenter, in small group conversation, in full team conversation, in independent work, and some is directly practicing one of the mental skills. 


How many sessions are best? 

I usually hope for 1-4 sessions with a team during a season; and about 6 across a full year. One session is fine for getting some information across and a foundational mental skill or two. Many athletes will catch something and be able to apply it immediately. The greatest impact though is a team having 4 sessions in a season. This gives time for them to learn all of the insights and practice the 4 core mental skills, while coming back to sessions able to discuss what is working and what is not. 


When should we do the sessions? 

In my opinion, getting 2-3 sessions in as quick as possible in pre-season is ideal. Some teams elect to meet on back to back days, or having 2 sessions in a day. Usually another session right before conference play or before tournament time is a good way to wrap up our time together in a season. 


What do you talk about with the team? 

Each session with the team will address 3 critical aspects of mental training: understanding the mind, managing the mind, and training the mind. 


Understanding the mind:

* Understand the relationship between thoughts, beliefs, emotions, fear, self-esteem, confidence,etc… and how it impacts behaviors and performance

* Learn and practice the mental skills along with why and how they are useful

* Learn about mindset and how to train it 

Managing the mind:

* Learn the skills to manage thoughts, focus, fear, stress, and confidence

* Create performance rituals to be used pre match and during competition 

* Manage mistakes failures and setbacks

Training the mind:

*Together we create a training regimen for mental training 

*The team is given access to several mental training audios created by Powell

*Learn the value of goal setting and how to stick with it


How does your information stay relevant after you meet with the team? 

This is an open question with lots of possibilities. I usually hope to discuss this with the team and hold the team accountable to being proactive about their mental performance. The athletes can usually be quite creative in their ways to address it. Some coaches create time in their practices or pre game schedules to give a few minutes on the mental piece. Putting mental training into the shared calendars or workout plans is also effective in keeping it relevant. \


Any other specific questions? Just reach out to Powell @ [email protected]


I look forward to hearing from you and wish your team's confidence and consistency.  


Powell Cucchiella, LMHC

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