Posts Tagged ‘anchoring’

Taking Care of an Athlete’s Emotional Welfare: Living Inside Another Person’s Head

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The Mental Game of a Sports Mind Coach is not that Different from the Athletes they Coach.

As a sports mind coach, much of the ability to create sustainable change in athletes comes from the ability to completely associate specifically to them and their performance issues on a deep level – and then take a precise pragmatic approach to solving those issues with them.

This means spending much of the workday deep within the minds of others, observing their idiosyncrasies, emotional roller-coasters, behavioural dichotomies, good and bad days, perceptions of self-worth and their individual sporting needs.

This can be emotionally challenging as a coach, especially when you have more than one client on the go which could mean double, triple or even 10 fold the idiosyncrasies, emotional roller-coasters, highs and lows! Keeping track of all the individual athletes needs, progress and programmes is paramount to ensuring them the best sustainable performance outcome.

So how can so many high octane careers be managed and still deliver each and every time? Well, it’s in part about perspective and systems!

It is as much about managing your mental wellbeing as a coach as much as it is managing the athletes. Let’s face it, if a coach was to get lost in the mental abyss and didn’t practice what they preached, they lose the ability to lead and guide these athletes. It would be like trying to catch a whole bunch of rabbits in an open field, blindfolded – completely hit and miss.

Empathy and understanding play a major role as does 100% precision focus on them whether working with them or building their programme. This means having the ability to not only switch ON to them and their needs but also to switch OFF from them too. This is vital to instantly change focus and do so without leaving traces of the last client or a build up to the next!

So the same ‘switch’ process I teach athletes, I utilise myself – a set process that switches me on before I engage with the client and one that powers me down after. This is the same process the athletes go through so they can perform 100% in full concentration and focus during the training session and more importantly on game day.

So how is this achieved?

The first stage is to establish a boundary – a physical and or mental line between where is work and where is not. For me it is outside wherever I am working with the client (this is a flexible boundary I maneuver as the physical venue changes frequently). So I establish the boundary line and once I cross that boundary line it’s game on, 100% them and their programme and nothing else.

Clark Kent or SupermanThe second stage is a ‘trigger’, a replicable action I set that signifies the mental transition from a mild mannered Clark Kent to Superman!

This trigger process is the same process as building an anchor to fire off a specific set of internal chemicals to initiate a set response or performance (anchoring). It needs to be unique and replicable, so with the crossing of the boundary and the firing of the trigger I become immersed in them and their world completely.

At the end of the session I reverse the process, I again cross out of the boundary and fire the second trigger to turn me back into Clark Kent or Dave Diggle! Leaving behind the emotional baggage and debris from the session. This preserves my emotional state and mental health.

This process allows a coach to be completely effective when needed to be and protects mental and physical welfare, creating sustainability and targeted focus.

This same process protects athletes from mental and emotional fatigue allowing them to be 100% committed to their sport and their careers yet allows them to power down and live a normal life outside without the hype and pressure creating a happier, healthier athlete with a sustainable career.