5 Ways for Busy Athletes and Coaches to Make Time for Mental Skills Training

Athletes and their coaches are dealing with increasingly distracted and stressful lives, and face stiffer and more global competition. When I worked with the San Francisco Giants, it was apparent to players at every position that they weren’t just fighting for a roster spot with American pitchers, fielders, and sluggers, but with talented players from Japan, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and many other countries whose baseball programs have improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years.

It’s the same in any sport – it’s getting harder and harder to make a team and stay on it. The same goes in individual sports in which you’re racing the clock as well as other runners, cyclists, rowers, or swimmers. With increasing advantages in training, recovery, nutrition, and so on, athletes are better prepared to push the limits of human performance than ever before.

Having said that, there’s still a gap in many athletes’ approach. And it has nothing to do with being bigger, stronger, or faster. Most athletes and coaches will argue that 90% of sports performance is mental. However, they will then spend 100% of their time working on the physical qualities they need to excel on the field, track, or court. As such, the mental game is often left to chance and circumstance.

Other than underestimating the importance of mindset training, a major reason for this lopsided physical-mental seesaw is the “I’m too busy excuse.” Without a doubt, athletes and coaches certainly are busy. Practices, games, travel, sponsor commitments, media engagements, building your brand – the list of things you have to do every day goes on and on. And yet, the mistake here is believing that you need to carve out this huge chunk of time that you don’t have to work on mental skills. In reality, just six minutes a day of using an app like the Champion’s Mind is all it takes to bring your cognitive game up to the same level as your physical one. Here are a few ways to start making this crucial commitment:

1)      Take Your Mental Game On the Go

How often are you without your phone? I’m guessing the answer is “Not very much.” In which case, you don’t even need to set aside a dedicated time slot. You can simply pull out your phone while you’re on the way to practice, are waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning, or are mobilizing in your living room in the evening. You’re going to do these things anyway, so you may as well double dip. Simply fire up the Champion’s Mind app and listen to a quick Energizer audio in the morning to rev you up, or play a Regenerator session at night to help you wind down and slip into restful sleep. Think of the app as a sports psychologist in your pocket that you can pull out anytime, anywhere for a quick mental skills session.

2)      Build Cognitive Compound Interest in Minutes

The Champion’s Mind app provides simple and effective science-based techniques, and those athletes who are consistent with mental skills training can still see real results in just six minutes a day. How do I know? Because I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on this topic via my Twitter feed. Just as compound interest quickly adds up, so too can a small daily investment rapidly grow your mental skills account balance. Soon, your brain and body will start to look forward to and almost crave your daily mindset training every bit as much as you look forward to getting out there with your teammates. Just a small daily contribution soon builds up into a big difference-maker that can take you from contention to domination.

3)      Train Between the Ears When You Can’t Train Below the Neck

There are times when you aren’t able to get an optimal training session in because you’re injured or sick. And then, if you play an outdoor sport, there are those days when the weather isn’t cooperating. It’s times like these when you aren’t able to work on your body that you can still train your mind. On the training table getting treatment or having a rubdown from a masseuse? Grab your phone, fire up the Champion’s Mind app, and follow along with a visualization, goal-setting, or confidence-building session. Or check out one of the sessions specifically tailored to helping you win your rehab process. Waiting for the rain or snow to clear? There’s another opportunity to get some mental reps in and gain a crucial competitive edge.

4)      Reinvest Some Social Media Time

The typical Facebook user is on the platform 54 minutes a day, while those on two or more social networks devote two hours a day to commenting, re-posting, and liking. As I just mentioned my Twitter feed and use it daily, I can’t say I’m immune to the pull of surfing my social feeds! Yet I recognize that even if I cut my usage back by 5%, I’ll have the opportunity to develop my mental game, which is arguably a far better way to spend those few minutes. The cat videos can wait, while peak performance never should. The mindset skills you can develop using the Champions Mind app for just six minutes will not only make you a better athlete or coach, but also improve other areas of your life, such as school, work, and relationships. I’d say that’s a win-win-win!

5)      Replace Distraction with Dedication

The modern world is so distracting, right? From ads that follow us all over the internet to always-available inboxes to round-the-clock texting, there’s something tempting us to turn away from what we should be focusing on. But as an athlete or coach, I bet you’d describe yourself as pretty dedicated and committed to being the best you can be. If that’s the case, the lowest of all low-hanging fruit to improve your performance is to start mindset training daily.

The Champion’s Mind app provides skills and strategies that can help athletes overcome fears and mental blocks, improve mental skills for performance, mentally prepare for competition, develop pregame and post-game routines, improve practice or training focus and efficiency, and return to your sport after injury with confidence. Don’t you want to get better at all of this? Then simply cut out a few minutes of distractions by not browsing the latest Netflix movies, turning off your text notifications for a while, and refusing to check email for the 45th time today because you’ve got something better to do: setting yourself up to think and act like the champion you are.

No one is born with or without a "champion's mind gene," so there's absolutely nothing preventing each of us from learning to think and feel like a champion to achieve our dream goals. And all it takes is six minutes a day. So download the Champion’s Mind app (for iPhone here and Android devices here), commit to six minutes of daily mindset training for a week, and let me know how you’re doing. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Phil White

Phil White

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