Mental Skills Training – Achieve Optimal Sports Performance

Mental Grit spoke with former lacrosse standout Jake Ferrin about how applying mental skills training techniques helped him transition from a mediocre player at high school level to one of Brigham Young University (BYU) best players.

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December 26, 2016

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Mental Grit spoke with former lacrosse standout Jake Ferrin about how applying mental skills training techniques helped him transition from a mediocre player at high school level to one of Brigham Young University’s (BYU) best players.

Strength, speed, and power are synonymous with athletic performance. But what makes humans human is our mind. No other species of animal on the entire planet can think the way humans do, It is the main thing that separates us from all other species on earth.

Believe it or not, in sports the mental game is as important as the physical game.

In sports, like in any other aspect of life, negative external or internal psychological factors can lead to mental blocks, causing breaks in focus and preparation, poor performance and, at times, even injuries to an athlete.

Through observation, it has been found that psychology is one of the biggest determinants of high performance and because of this a higher win-loss record.

Like all humans, athletes must battle and overcome the annoying and debilitating inside voices or thoughts that can deter them from maximizing on their potential.

Imagine Michael Jordan failing to do this. There would be no ‘Air Jordan’, or at least he would not be the G.O.A.T and Bulls fans would likely be as miserable as Sixers fans are now.

What could happen with Mental Skills Training…

The former outstanding BYU Lacrosse player believes that he would have been a lot better player if he had done some mental skills training.

“Throughout my entire career I wasn’t satisfied with my mental game if I would’ve have all of this playing lacrosse I would have been much much better, I truly believe if I had learned those mental abilities I would be an incredible athlete”

Jake’s opportunity was that, as he described it, he “was in his head” too much.

“Getting out of my head was a huge problem for me in college. I would think too much about instead of just playing and not thinking.”

Here at Mental Grit we like to say humans live in the feeling of their thinking. An overabundance of thinking can produce debilitating feelings like a lack of confidence and a sense of insecurity. A clear head usually defaults to confidence and security. This is that state where things just seem to go right.

“Detaching from my emotions was almost like detaching from my thoughts in the game.”

A simple don’t care attitude worked for Jake. What worked best for him was not caring too much but instead just being relaxed, playing his game.

“Sometimes in the game you find yourself thinking about weird things like being worried about making one of your teammates mad so you hold back because you don’t want to be seen as a ball hog or make mistakes and the coach yell at you and you end up playing bad because of that mindset.”

However, Jake also had experiences where he was ‘in his head’ and things turned out well.

These actions might feel contradictory, but on these occasions Jake simply applied a common mental skill technique and it worked for him. He read a few things about self-talk and decided to try it. Before a game, he kept telling himself that he is the best and ironically that game turned out to be an 8 goal and 4 assist game – one of his best.

Self-talk is one of the five key skills to mental skills training. It can silence negative voices inside a person’s head going hand in hand with visualization with the individual both hearing and seeing success.

Jake, now a coach at Timpanogos High School says he can relate to all five of the mental skills but the one that resonates with him the most is mindfulness and emotional control.

The Advantages of Mental Skills Training for an Athlete

“As a coach I can see that now in the boys, the ones that don’t let their emotions dictate their game ended up being the guy who is not nervous to try and win the game at the end, adversity doesn’t get to him.”

An athlete needs to be able to cope with pressure well under every circumstance so that they can focus on the competition.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that athletes who have their psychology right, perform at their pinnacle more consistently over time, in various contexts and under various types of pressure.

Mental proficiency helps ensure this consistency, guarding against fluctuations in performance.

This is what makes sports mental training so vital.

Mental skills training are procedures that help athletes control their minds efficiently and consistently as they execute sport-related goals.

Jake believes that if properly done, especially with kids, sports psychology training could have a major impact.

“If you can teach kids those skills it would be incredible – you could be super athletes.”

As the game of sports gets more and more sophisticated, coaches who fail to properly utilize sports psychology training place their players, and themselves, at a disadvantage in the increasingly competitive sports landscape.

Don’t get left behind.

Do you relate to any of the experiences in this article? Let us know the challenges you have faced or are currently facing and what you believe you can in order to optimize your performance potential by clicking the button below.

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