'Training the Mind'

Think of how long it took for you to master certain sport skills. It takes the same amount of time to become comfortable using various mental skills strategies such as imagery, self-talk, and goal setting and using them in a meaningful way. Training the mind involves sharing information related to mental skills training with your athletes. This could be as simple as reading an imagery script related to confidence building or reviewing/adjusting goals. Each mental skill has great complexities and is difficult to deliver all at once. By simply exposing your athletes to the information, this could have an impact on their sport experience and teach them about the importance of training the mind as well as the body.

Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Training the Mind'

  • Have the team consider different key words that they can use to encourage each other (i.e., self-talk).
  • Use an imagery script provided below to use a different aspect of imagery training.
  • Have athletes image the drill(s) before actually doing it.
  • Do a relaxation script at the end of practice.

'Let’s Train!'

Now that the mind has begun the take shape, this lesson serves as a reminder to inject your program with new drills or activities. By teaching a new skill, athletes have a chance to push themselves and work on something new. Another aspect of this lesson is to remind you of the importance of providing time for the youth to simply play. Numerous papers point to the many benefits of ‘deliberate play’ (sport activities designed to maximize enjoyment, regulated by flexible rules and generally led of young people). Allowing some time for deliberate play within sport programs gives an opportunity for youth to build automony, creativity, problem-solving, and fun!

Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Let’s Train!'

  • Do a brand new drill today in practice - one that you have never done before.
  • Have athletes write down the name of their favorite drill and put them in a box. Pick drills out of the box – and add a small twist so that it is different!
  • Provide some time in practice for the participants to simply play. During this time, coaches will not lead – the point is to allow the athletes to create and problem-solve on their own. If you want, you could suggest play within a specific skill (i.e., come up with a creative passing play or different way to score)

'Sport for Life'

Participation in sport can teach a number of lessons that are useful at school and in day to day interactions with friends and family. Confidence, competence, connection, and character are topics that can be taught (and reinforced) through sport. Taking a moment to make the link between what is learned in sport and how it relates to other domains is a lesson that will stay with the child. For example, when athletes work together, this parallels the teamwork needed in school when completing group work. The skills needed to excel as a sport team are the same as the skills needed to complete tasks in other settings.

Recommended SCORE Plays

  • During some down time or stretching, ask athletes to share about how participation in their sport helps them in other areas on their lives (i.e., school, work, family).
  • Coaches can share their own experience about how sport has helped in other areas of life.
  • Pay attention to any "teachable moment" that may pop up in a drill or scrimmage. Use that moment to make a link to sport and life. For example, you may decide to use a drill that emphasizes persistence or "going after a ball". Talk to your players about how that attitude is valuable in other contexts.