Myths of Mental Skills Training #3

24 05 2018

As I shared in past writings, gaining an edge on the competition can take on many points of focus. One can improve their strength, agility, skills, and speed. However, one of the skill sets that often gets overlooked is that of the MIND. I realize that the reason is often a lack of understanding of what it means, along with some MYTHS that cloud one’s understanding keeping them at a distance from the experience. I am writing about some myths because if that is the reason why you have not pursued this work I want to attempt to take away that barrier.

Myth 3:  Doing MENTAL SKILLS work will be boring, painful, and a waste. I can do this on my own by just trying harder and being more positive.

If you talk to the people I work with, you will find that some started with this very thought. It was not too long before their Mental Skills work became their absolute FAVORITE part of training. It was INSPIRING, INSIGHTFUL, ENCOURAGING, HELPFUL, and maybe most importantly, SO BENEFICIAL!

Often people build up a perception in their mind before they ever have an experience. Some of the fears people often have are centered around the fear that they will have to share deeply personal, vulnerable, and maybe even long-held shame concerning mistakes made in the past. There might be a time and place for one to dive into these types of topics but, building a mental skills toolbox is not one of them. Different professionals specialize in this type of work.

A mental skills coach is concerned with teaching and training the skills that are most important in the midst of competition.

The building of confidence, overcoming failure, dealing with distractions, overcoming the fear of failure to name a few. These conditions can be overcome, and you can thrive in spite of these challenges. A GOOD MENTAL SKILLS COACH can give you an edge few others have. Not only that, but these skills can be transferred to every area of your life and give you the same kind of edge.

I believe that there is no more exciting, relevant, and inspiring work to do than the work that becomes part of you no matter what you are doing or where you go. This work is exciting, powerful, and enlightening on so many levels.

WHY NOT SCHEDULE A MENTAL SKILLS COACHING SESSION AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF?  The first one is on me, as in, FREE!  Schedule Now!

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Myths of Mental Skills Training

23 04 2018

Myths are beliefs that guide our thinking and behavior that may contain partial truth while also containing misguided information.

When I was growing up my mom would tell me I could not go swimming after dinner because I would drown from immediate cramping. For many years I thought that eating and swimming were dangerous only to find out that it was not true. I could now eat and the jump in the water! FREEDOM.

I suspect that we all have hooked our wagons to mythical beliefs only to uncover or find out the error of our ways. When myths are uncovered, it is because a NEW TRUTH that dispels that myth is learned or discovered through experience. My purpose for writing about myths and mental skills training is to bring new and fresh information to you in a manner that helps open up new roads of understanding. When this happens, you just may uncover something that could help you reach new heights of living and performance.

Myth 1: You have to be struggling to benefit from mental skills coaching.

Back in the day, you might have heard a story of an athlete working with a Sports Psychologist, or Mental Skills coach, primarily initiated when a STRUGGLE was sabotaging performance or life. Much of this work was done privately (nothing wrong with this at all) and with only a few having awareness. The work might have come to the forefront when the athlete had attained some space between that struggle, so they were better able to be open up about it. These brave and courageous individuals carved a pathway for more to consider the value of mental skills work. I have these people to thank and many others that have championed the value of these skills for 30 plus years. However, one shift that I believe is VITAL is to not only associate these skills with overcoming struggle but to understand that anyone CAN ENHANCE their performance, consistency, and overall life quality by learning, practicing, and strengthening their MENTAL SKILLS.

Truth 1: Mental Skills work can be learned, strengthened, and sharpened no matter how you are performing and what you might be going through.

You would never say to yourself, “I am playing good enough to stop getting stronger or more skilled.” It is common to keep pursuing mastery of sport-specific skills, so why would we ever believe that MENTAL SKILLS work is any different?

Learning how to improve your capacity to notice key triggers that lead to poor and unproductive thinking and re-structure the focus of those thoughts and the quality of the thought is significant. Just this one skill has become a game-changing skill for many I have coached.

Learning strategies for overcoming failure by committing to extracting the next piece of learning to enhance future performance has been a game changer not only in sport but life, for many I have coached. These are just a few examples of the importance of learning some skills that originate in the mind to enhance performance as well as overall life experience.

If you have ever thought that working with a mental skills coach is only for those that ARE STRUGGLING and hold the stigma that to work with this type of coach means you are FLAWED, WEAK, or ILL, then it might be time to re-look at this option.

I want to make it easy for you!

I invite you to join me for a free 30-minute MENTAL SKILLS COACHING SESSION.

Yes! Click here to get your FREE Coaching Call

Keep an eye out on our blog for myths two and three to follow.

Shaun

IMPORTANT NOTE:
**** It is important to understand that there is a difference between working with a Sports Psychologist and a Mental Skills Coach. A Sports Psychologist is licensed to diagnosis and therefore take into consideration influential factors that might be responsible psychologically for the struggle that often requires a more advanced treatment approach that is more broad and holistic than that of a Mental Skills Coach. When these psychological factors are present, Mental Skills Coaches need to understand where their training is insufficient because the needs of the client lie beyond their training. This understanding helps us to serve the individual with the utmost professionalism, ethics, and excellence.





Progress is Power

15 03 2018

Some months ago I was talking with a young athlete, and I asked him how things were going for him.

His response was, “I DONT KNOW.”

To most people this response would be a dead end and the conversation would have moved on to something else.

Not this time!

I continued to explore with him what “not knowing” meant. My next question was, “Does ‘I don’t know’ mean you don’t know how to describe how it is going?” With immediate tears, he said, “YES.”

This experience opened my eyes to the reality that many young athletes are living with deep disappointment, discouragement, and despair without the words to describe their reality. This has emerged as a trend as I have worked individually with young athletes. Much of their experience leaves them confused, frustrated, and without direction.

Recently, I spoke to a young athlete that expressed to me his deep desire to succeed, but with frustration and anger he said, “I have no idea what I can do to get better.” This is an epidemic in the youth sports culture. Many young athletes that have the MOTIVATION TO IMPROVE have little, to no clarity about how to invest their energy. In fact, when a young man/women have the actual courage to approach a coach and ask what they need to get better, they often hear, “Just work harder.” I do not think there is any intent here to frustrate or anger these young athletes. I believe we have a great number of coaches that are unskilled in communication. This inability to communicate with clarity is what leaves these athletes at a loss of what to do. The accumulation of this over time leads to a great deal of frustration, confusion, and at its height, ANGER. The result is motivation is decreased, enjoyment is dissolved, and engagement is replaced with distraction and dissatisfaction.

We all want to feel like the effort we invest is leading to progress. PROGRESS IS POWERFUL!!

Recently, a young athlete reached out to me for coaching concerning his desire to control his emotions and have better focus. During my initial interview with him, he expressed tremendous discouragement and frustration because he was “trying” without PROGRESSING. During our first coaching call, I gave him some clear and specific strategies to invest in his “trying.” After just a couple of weeks, he reported feeling significantly better. When I asked why he felt better, his response was, “I am improving!”

IMPROVEMENT IS POWERFUL! Progressing leaves young athletes with an internal center of power that their efforts are getting them somewhere. They are not spinning their wheels and shooting into the dark about what they need or can do to improve. This is huge! In my opinion, the feeling and feedback that one is progressing may be the single greatest source of ongoing motivation for young athletes.

The next motivational variable is having a clarified role that brings with it a way to mark contribution. When a coach has observed and evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of an individual, communicated that to the athlete, and followed that with continued feedback as to the ongoing level of progression concerning the skills needed to contribute effectively within that role, motivation and perseverance are at their highest. Doing this well requires the capacity to look beneath the obvious. A contribution is often only associated with that which is most glamorous and easily observed. However, success in any team sport is dependent on different roles performing at high levels that combine for high-level team performance. When players are not clear about their role and opportunity to mark contribution, WINNING is of little value or consolation.

One player exhibited this with this example:

Following a weekend tournament that her team had just won a coveted championship while talking to Jill, I  asked her how it felt to win the tournament. Her response was troubling. She said, “I didn’t feel like I did anything to help the team win.” Her head was down, and her body language was discouraged. It would be easy at this point to shame Jill for not being a team player. However, her response speaks to the importance of leading young people to understand that they often have great contributions that go unnoticed. At least, in this case, her discouragement wasn’t about selfishness, it was about the DESIRE TO MARK A CONTRIBUTION TO THE TEAM.

I wonder how often we misread this?

Being a great teammate is about OFFERING WHAT YOU HAVE for the betterment of the whole.

What if the discouragement we see in some players is connected to their lack of clarity as to how to MARK THEIR CONTRIBUTION? When CONTRIBUTION cannot be marked, belonging is eroded. This can lead to discouragement often appearing in body language and actions that get labeled as immature and selfish. Telling athletes to be “team players,” without giving them a clear role, is nothing short of systematic rejection.

Young athletes are craving a clear path towards improvement. With clear roles, qualitative feedback, and a team atmosphere that values and reinforces differing forms of contribution, engagement increases, and discouragement and confusion decreases. This will lead to more young athletes feeling proud of their contributions.

Progress is POWER.





Cultures of Care

19 02 2018

culturesofcareCULTURES OF CARE = WINNING EXPERIENCES

Over the years I have been paying attention! I realize that this statement is quite vague on the surface. One could easily ask, “What have you been paying attention to?” The answer is what provides the clarity and understanding.

What I have learned over 30 years of working in the personal development field is this: what we “pay attention” to is what determines how we think, act, and live. If we have trained ourselves to notice what is lacking, wrong, insufficient, frustrating, or problematic then we are focused on all the information that supports these principles.

I want to suggest that the danger in our focus is not simply WHAT we are focusing on. Maybe the bigger danger is what we are NOT focusing on.

Let me explain. For the better part of 18 years, I have dedicated myself to learn and pass on the most advanced science on what unleashes HIGH PERFORMANCE for athletes, individuals, business professionals, and others simply seeking to “BE THEIR BEST.” My focus led me to pay attention to and help individuals succeed within the context that they were performing or competing. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. However, I have become acutely aware of something that requires my ATTENTION.

When the group succeeds, individuals thrive as well. Where individuals succeed only, the group rarely thrives.

I have come to believe that the future success of many individuals is going to exponentially increase as more and more intentional efforts and strategy are invested in the RELATIONSHIPS that turn a group into a team.

Simply stated, for youth sports to THRIVE we must bring back a focus on DEEP FRIENDSHIPS. What I mean is that we must consistently and intentionally put teammates in positions to not only express themselves authentically but teach others how to embrace the individuality of each person. I think we have neglected this because we think the shared goal of winning and succeeding is what brings people together. This only proves to be true when everyone on the team plays to win. This is where the myth begins. Most youth sports athletes do not only play in order to WIN. They play, ironically, to be with their friends and share experiences. What if we focused on amplifying the connection between teammates? I believe we would find an explosion of MOTIVATION, ENGAGEMENT, CONSISTENCY, and, quite frankly, I believe there would be less drama, more fun, and coaches would enjoy the process more.

I am not saying that WINNING does not have value. However, I believe that a focus on winning has created a point of focus that will keep us unaware of what truly will lead to greater success! Fully engaged, energetic, caring, and connected teams will outperform the opposite all the time when talent is equal.

In other words, we do not have to focus on WINNING to CREATE A WINNING EXPERIENCE.

In the depth of where my passion and experience resides, I believe our young people are craving genuine, authentic, and caring cultures to freely experiment, fail, succeed, and, maybe most importantly, LEARN ABOUT WHO THEY ARE.

My passion is designing team experiences that build a caring culture and teammates learn about themselves and others.

Shaun





Who’s Got Your Power?

23 05 2017

I often get calls that start off like this, “Shaun my son/daughter is really having a tough time this year. EVERYTHING has changed.” They continue by stating, “Something is off.” They conclude by saying, “I do not know what to do to help! Can you help?”

This is truly a difficult spot for a parent to find themselves. Knowing that your kid is struggling and not knowing why or what you can do to help is truly disturbing and a bit scary as well.

This experience has become far too common and as a result, it is going to be the focus of this blog to help give perspective, guidance and some encouragement to those that might be dealing with this currently or in the future. We can all learn something.

Every player that I have worked with over the years WANTS TO DO WELL AND PLEASE THE COACHES they have. Hopes are high, motivation is strong, and most of the time they have invested significant time and energy to perform well. What often transpires moving forward is NOT WHAT THE PLAYER HAD IN MIND. As time goes on, playing time may be limited, communication is sparse, confidence is questioned and discouragement, frustration, and disappointment begin to overwhelm. It is at this point that fear also begins to run deep because answers and hope are absent.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED?

Every player’s experience is different. However, I have learned something very important over the years. MOST players have GIVEN AWAY their personal power to their coaches. What this means practically is that they have given away (unconsciously) their identity as a player and person. Instead of defining for themselves their priorities, purpose and strengths they look to others to affirm, provide certainty and make it better for them.

WHEN SOMEONE ELSE HAS YOUR POWER YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A SLAVE TO THAT PERSON. Your thoughts about yourself will be dictated by them leading to a complete internal breakdown. This is happening to athletes of all ages, skill levels and personality types and it destroys confidence.

There is no substantive change until the player takes back the power and digs deep and decides that they are going to strengthen themselves from within to PLAY and LIVE from this internal center of power. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take feedback from those around you, but, you should always reserve the right to have the FINAL SAY.

Let me give an example: a number of years ago I received a call like I cited at the beginning of this blog. The player was absolutely beside himself, mom was in tears out of despair and the future looked extremely bleak. It was apparent that this players power was in the hands of his college coach.

When I said, “Why does your coach have all your power?”

His response was, “Until now I didn’t know that was the case.”

From that moment forward there were a number of conversations that centered around him taking his power back by PERSONALLY defining his purpose and matching that with decisions to re-engage in his own empowered manner. His mom would tell you today this was his MOMENT OF TRANSFORMATION. Her words were, “Shaun I have my son back! I do not know what you did but I got my son back.” This story is not isolated but has been repeated many times since with many different athletes.

What did I do?

I taught this player to take back something that he should have never given away! HIS POWER. He recently graduated and he was able to reignite his love for the game, play at the highest level he has ever played at and finished the year playing some Pro hockey. Most importantly, he learned a valuable life lesson.

Here is the lesson: The best person to have control of me is me!

People are powerful when they live from their center and reserve the final say for themselves. When they are fortunate to have positive influences in their lives they can integrate these messages to elevate their performance and life experience. But they should always ask themselves WHO’S GOT MY POWER?





What is it about Confidence?

7 04 2017

There isn’t a day in my coaching practice where a question about confidence doesn’t come up.

Confidence is often seen as the CORE DEFICIT when performance is sub par.

I have never heard an athlete say, “Shaun, I am playing really poorly but my confidence is in tact.”

This leads me to think that many understand confidence to be only present when one is playing well and absent when performance is sub par. Therefore, when performance drops confidence drops with it.

Confidence must be understood differently for it to be of great value.

So, what is a better way to think of confidence?

Watch my Building Unshakable Confidence Coaching Video for greater understanding!

To begin I offer this definition of confidence:

Confidence is the belief that one generates concerning their ability to be successful in their arena of performance.

I want to emphasis that for confidence to be present it must be generated from within the individual. Nobody, no matter how well meaning, encouraging, positive, or caring, can GIVE LONG-TERM CONFIDENCE to another. They must see this as THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. For confidence to be sustainable it must be based on three interchangeable dynamics.

First, COMPETENCIES or SKILLS. In other words, do I have the SKILLS to compete and create success. Skills are what bridge effort to success. Not only must energy be exerted but there must be a level of mastery that qualifies the individual to realistically believe success is possible. There is no level of confidence that will overcompensate for a deficit in skills. True confidence is grounded in skills that are connected to success in the arena of competition.

Second, COURAGE. Once you have the skills you must courageously express them in the midst of competition. Fear, anxiety and pressure all contribute to inhibiting the full self expression of your skills. When this happens it is not a lack of confidence that is inhibiting you, it is your lack of courage. It is a funny thing but when you fully express yourself utilizing the skills you have diligently worked to have you begin to experience a deeper belief in yourself.

Lastly, confidence is generated through your CONVERSATION. The conversation I am referring to is the one you have with yourself. This type of conversation is often understood as your inner dialogue. When you do not experience success and you tell yourself “I suck” or “why can’t I ever catch a break?” or “I am unlucky” you are literally generating a LACK OF CONFIDENCE. The inner dialogue of a person of confidence is made up of thoughts that sound like “Hang in there,” “you can do this,” or “you are real close, with a bit more practice you can get there.”

The important thing to remember is that false confidence is built on lies and rationalizations while authentic confidence is generated from truthful feedback and tested skills.

Confidence results when COMPETENCIES have been mastered, COURAGE is expressed, and your inner CONVERSATION supports your belief in your ability to figure it out as you are tested in the midst of competition.

Let’s quit using a lack of confidence as the easy and lazy explanation for sub-par performance and start seeing that sub-par performance is often the result of sub-par skills, inhibited self expression and self-defeating inner dialogue along with a lack of role defintion and feedback associated with that defined role.

When we train young athletes to see the strengthening of their confidence as their responsibility and equip them with a framework to practice it we give them a skill for life. In this way sports provides a great training ground for life-time growth and impact.

Don’t forget, you can experience my video coaching Building Unshakable Confidence FREE!





Fear of Failure vs. Mentally Strong and Confident

20 03 2017

As a parent I have never really feared my kids physical abilities and skills to compete in the sports they have been in. My greatest fears have centered around their mental skills.

It is their failure that I fear.

I often wonder what will happen to their self esteem, confidence and overall well being if they fail. In an attempt to avoid having to see this outcome I have OVER USED encouragement and pep talks to do anything I can to PROTECT THEM from the possible fallout of experiencing failure.

It never occurred to me that FAILURE, STRUGGLE and DISCOURAGEMENT was actually the “game they needed to win.” Rarely was I concerned with wins and losses. MY CENTRAL CONCERN and point of interest and ANXIETY was EMBARRASSMENT. I did not want to see my kids get embarrassed. I equated the possibility of failing with them being embarrassed. I believe that this is what drives most parents in their interactions with their youth athletes.

THEN IT HIT ME…

What if I EMPOWERED, TRAINED AND TAUGHT THEM to UTILIZE these moments to GROW and STRENGTHEN?

What if I grew in my assurance that they were STRONG, RESILIENT, CREATIVE, and MENTALLY SKILLED?

THEN I COULD REST AND BE AT PEACE!!!

As a result, I created Stay In The Sport Zone!

Do you want to get a jump start on your MENTAL SKILL TRAINING?

Do you get confused about where to go to begin your training?

Do you want to learn from someone that has many years of experience coaching and training youth athletes to improve their mental skills?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then Stay In The Sport Zone is for you!

Stay In The Sport Zone is an online, non-threatening coaching program you can do in the privacy of your own home. I personally will lead you through (6) powerful mental skill teachings that will propel you forward in the pursuit of a STRONGER MIND!

Each video coaching module provides a step-by-step approach on how to build these vital sport-zone skills:

MODULE 1: Moving from Frustration to Fire
MODULE 2: Building Laser Focus
MODULE 3: Becoming Unshakably Confident
MODULE 4: Peak Performance Practice
MODULE 5: Powerless to Empowered
MODULE 6: Moving Beyond Your Fear of Failure

Here is what is being said about this program:

“This email is to THANK YOU for your great video series Stay in the Sport Zone, I spoke with you on what you offer athletes for working on building their mental skills. After hearing all the options we ended up going with the online “Stay in the Sport Zone” online program where my kids could work at their pace and even revisit different concepts.

I don’t think I could possibly convey to you in an email what a big difference, in a positive way, your online program made to my daughter this senior season of her high school career. It was pretty amazing! We’ve always thought she had many athletic tools but for the first time, I think EVER, she was a very composed and confident athlete even when she had a few minor set backs. It was such fun to watch her all season long and admire the personal growth she made. She made some big goals for herself…. and she accomplished them. Knowing this kid — this came down to her finding something she’d never had before and that was truly a mental edge. She ended up accomplishing LIFETIME best time in her event (by a lot, after 2 years of a plateau) and making individual All – State which was the biggest deal ever to her. She diligently and completely (on her own) used your program all season and grew as an athlete. It was obvious to me she connected with the concepts and used them to grow and enjoyed the process. She enjoyed her season so much she’s planning to continue in college.

Just want to say thank you for having that program available!!

It’s made a huge difference to a kid who has now wrapped up her high school career in a sport she has put so much time into, in the most positive outcome we could have hoped for. THANK YOU!”

Parent of a Stay In The Sport Zone Client

“Working with Shaun has been an incredible opportunity. I started meeting with Shaun as a freshman in high school, and little did I know that moment would change my life forever. I was ecstatic to begin my journey with Mental Edge and boost my athletic performance by working on my mental game. Shaun not only taught me strategies of how to become more mentally tough on court, but also how to be a supportive teammate and compassionate person. He’s by far one of the most incredible, kind, and generous people I’ve ever met and I’m lucky to have him in my life.”

Student Athlete

Go ahead and get registered for this life-changing video coaching and I’ll see you on the other side to get started!

Shaun