08 May The Mindset of an Athlete
Thoughts and Notes Compiled by NRL Coach Des Hasler and Performance and Growth Coach Don Singe.
Mindset … Headspace … Focused … Switched On … Present … Get your Head On …these are all terms associated with the State of Mind of an athlete when they compete.
What do the above terms mean in a tangible and trainable sense?
The athlete is able to receive new stimulus and begin a controlled measured response.
We can provide micro environments to our athletes on a daily basis allowing us to hone our athletes process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and their senses.
We encourage and promote this through interactive and inclusive team planning. We can gain the best outcomes from every training session both physically and mentally.
From our experience at Manly Sea Eagles and Canterbury Bulldogs, we have evidence from a multitude of measurement modalities which indicate improvement and increase in skill execution under competitive match conditions. Statistics from both training and game data reflect that we’re able to raise in some instances the following cognition traits in our athletes.
Perception, discernment, awareness, apprehension, learning, understanding, comprehension, enlightenment, insight, strategic intelligence, reasoning, deliberate thinking, conscious thought, sensations, idea harvesting, or intuition resulting from the process of cognition.
When we tap into the above mental acquisition of cognitive development on a daily basis we begin to benefit from the physiological responses, in particular, the chemicals Dopamine and Serotonin.
Dopamine is released when we succeed, overcome, complete tasks, achieve, win, compete, and challenge. The feeling of accomplishment is a powerful trigger for dopamine which brings a surge of pleasure, satisfaction and intense motivation. This promotes an addictive response to reach these feelings again and again. Associating these feelings with training and playing actions reinforces an individual to strive for thresholds of effort which stimulate dopamine secretion. Hence the association with effort and skill-full execution to dopamine hits, provides a joyful and sustainable platform the athlete wants to return to. Training excellence and compliance increases and obviously transitions to all areas of athlete preparation.
Serotonin helps the body send messages between nerve cells and is your mood stabiliser chemical effecting emotions, memory and digestion. Serotonin is promoted by the following affecting variables: high protein diets, sunlight, sleep and exercise.
With structured, repeatable and adaptation-based training regimes, both Dopamine and Serotonin are naturally abundant and positive to your athlete.
But can we identify elements which athletes can develop and deploy during contest?
Yes we can.
Committing to positive responses during adverse situations can be rehearsed and ingrained. The feelings associated with adverse conditions have been experienced, so has the preferred response and reaction. This reinforces the team’s resilience to maintain focus and regroup. Whether you are behind on the scoreboard or in front, the dopamine and serotonin hit is pursued.
Can we design strategic plans, specific to the individual, which elicit positive chemical and hormonal responses in the body during exciting or adverse situations?
Again- a resounding yes.
The daily training and marginal gains an athlete experiences and overcomes mixed with verbal cues and physical triggers will support their ingrained positive experience to take the next action.
The BONUS factors of growth are technical and tactical competence and a collective team confidence.
Applying a structured, collaborative and engaging training syllabus with clear transparent measurement tools, frequent and honest feedback opportunities and loops mixed with comprehensive and current recovery modalities will allow your training environment to be orientated around growth.
This enables you to field a focused athlete on game day who yields capacity, competence and confidence.
A strong and pliable mindset to compete as an individual and deliver as a team member.
Athletes don’t turn up with a particular mindset on game-day! In the right training environment they apply and develop their mindset into who and what they are as people and as competitors.
This enables them to be ready competitively at all times for any level of performance in any arena.