Softball coach psychology is a tool that is still under utilized by many coaches and athletes. What is even more under utilized is mental training for coaches. Our ability as leaders is dependent on our psychological preparedness and confidence as much as it is for athletes. Use mental training skills and strategies as a coach as you are teaching them to your athletes and you will benefit and enjoy your competitions even more.
Dealing with distraction in major competitions
Many factors can represent a source of distraction and affect your overall performance as a coach, both in training and in competition.
Following is an inventory of possible distraction factors that high performance coaches might face during training and competition.
- coach preparedness
- athletes preparedness
If you are not prepared, you might not have the scouting information for example, that was gathered to be used for the main competition. or you might not be familiar with the facilities and environment that your athletes are competing at in order to foresee any potential distractions that might occur as a result of a new facility etc.
If you have been preparing effectively, then you have been preparing your athletes for all or at least most of the physical, mental and technical components of softball.
Potential Distractions Before a training session
- weather – dress appropriately, have extra clothing with you
- being prepared – record practice session on the computer/print it off to bring to the field
- access to athletes – setup email lists / create a team phone list
- parents boundaries – set guidelines at the first meeting
Potential Distractions During a training session
- motivation – re-focus or take a break regularly
- tardiness by athletes – have athletes plan for the schedule the night before
- fatigue – ensure adequate rest and recovery post/pre training
- facilities – check the facility 1 hour before the training session
- parents boundaries and guidelines – letter to parents / info sheet first meeting / keep them updated
- phone calls – have athletes turn the the cell phones off upon arrival
- observers – focus on the task / use concentration strategies
- general public
Potential Distractions Before an important competition
- adequate preparedness – create a detailed plan during your taper
- team standings – focus on the process
- media – familiarize the team with media policies, role play
- promotional and social events
- importance of the event
Potential Distractions During major competitions
- Environment – Know what is in your control
- athlete injuries – follow Performance Enhancement Team recommendations
- weather – be prepared for anything
- officials – know the rules
- spectators – distraction control strategies
- athlete fatigue – make sure regeneration methods are adequate
- opponents – use scouting reports / mental training strategies
- stress – experience with the stressors
Having athletes submit a weekly or bi-weekly journal can give more insight into how they are feeling about the environment and how you are running it. It is crucial that they understand and believe that there would be no repercussions for their submissions such as playing time or how they are treated during competitions / training.
Preparation for Coaches
Preparation for competition begins with the first practice and athlete selection camp. The parents meeting and team meeting is where your program is established and questions are answered. Carrying out the program with a detailed yearly training plan will guide you in carrying out your training plans and achieving competition milestones. If the team and your coaching staff have done all that you can and should have done during the season to attain success, then the final tournament should be easy. Monitoring during the season with measurable check points can allow for any modifications that might need to be made.
Planning for Distractions
Officials – know the rules thoroughly so that you know the officials part in the competition. Educate your athletes and establish ground rules regarding conduct during competition with each other and officials.
Coach Preparedness – by ensuring that you have done your job up to the competition and done everything you can to assist your athletes in their preparations, you should not have any reason to doubt yourself or your team.
Athlete Preparedness – implement regulations to ensure that athletes are taking responsibility for their own preparedness. Have measures of evaluating their readiness while providing opportunities and resources to assist them.
Environment – with the amount of distractions in the environment that you may need to deal with, you need to have skills and strategies such as distraction control, relaxation, focusing, and relaxation. The strategies should be solidified during the pre season.
Opponents – By having as much information as you can on the opponents, you will be ready for them when your athlete begins competition. Their success or lack of success should not interfere with your game plan or decision making process during the competition.
Softball Sport Psychology
A plan is crucial to your ability to being mentally prepared. Having direction during the competition can minimize the stress and anxiety that can easily be experienced when unprepared. Not feeling confident in your procedures or abilities to deal with unforeseen circumstances will make you and your athletes more prone to stress and anxiety. In addition, If you as a coach are not mentally prepared for competition, its possible that you can have a negative effect on your athletes.