The issue is why parents allow team coaches to work on the mental and mindset of their student athlete and yet they hire a specialist to work on fielding, hitting and pitching?
In discussing mental toughness this week with a few others, I had a coach of an elite travel team say to me “I do the mental stuff for my team”. I responded that even if that is true and he knows what he is doing, does that mean when parent’s take their kids to hitting, fielding and pitching coaches, is it because he doesn’t cover those things in practice, or is he just not good at it?
We take our kids to experts, because they… are… EXPERTS.
Is your child being coached at a high level? High level in this sense includes more than just a coach who can teach them how to field a ground ball or lay down a bunt. After all, less than 5% will reach their first goal of playing at one of the big 5 conference (Pac 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big East, ACC) schools, and the percentage who do play will not do so solely because they are better athlete’s and/or softball players. They also must be mentally tougher, they have a champions Mindset that only comes from hard work and cultivating what they think.
Youth coaches can only help them get closer to their dreams and goals to a certain level of understanding, then it comes down to the parents insuring their kid gets what they need. The child’s mindset and ultimately success does not come down solely on the coach, because he or she may not be equipped to build mental toughness. In fact, I have seen parents and coaches weaken mindset, sometimes unknowingly.
However, there are things that high-level programs should be doing to prepare their student athletes mentally to reach their dreams and goals of playing at one of the Big 5 schools and it should come from coaches who know how to do that, otherwise the parent must find an expert to help.
Things like a team mission or goal that the players created through a facilitated process. This teaches the student athlete a skill set that they will need and use at every level in their life to reach their full potential. This process invites the player into something bigger than themselves and when they are part of something bigger than them you will see their level of play rise which ultimately helps their mindset and helps them in the recruiting process.
Have they written out their list of dreams that they see for themselves? Einstein said that imagination is everything, that it’s greater than education because it is the preview of life’s coming attraction. To set SMART goals, you need to have a vision of what will happen if you achieve that goal, a dream. Coaches have power and respect that if they introduce this process the likely hood of the player buying into it and adapt it to their life is greater. I get that every coach may not be skilled at facilitating this type of process, but what would a coach do if they were not great at coaching pitching, they would bring in a pitching coach otherwise the parent of a pitcher would find a team that had elite coaching at pitching or hire a private pitching coach. High level coaches teach or bring someone to teach their elite players how to goal set based on their dreams and how to make the goal a reality.
Lastly coaches who help develop the player’s mental toughness, meaning they help the student athlete create a strong self-image, so that the student athlete plays with a champion attitude, sees this characteristic show up over and over in tough game situations and in life.