Packaging your Content
It's on us to make the connections, not the athletes
One of the other lessons that I have learned over the years is based on how I design training sessions (in particular with groups). There have been several discussions in our newsletter about training within context, but this today’s conversation is framed from a bigger picture perspective.
Our approach to training. Are we presenting and training from the perspective of the athlete? Or are we presenting and training from the perspective of a sport psychology expert?
Over the years I went from doing training on mental skills (goal-setting, imagery, focus, self-talk, motivation, confidence, etc.) to doing training based on common athlete experiences (letting go of mistakes, handling nerves/anxiety, balancing school/sport, etc.).
What’s the difference?
Well, the biggest difference I’ve noticed is two things. (1) The engagement level of athletes during training and (2) My creativity to support topics over time. These two differences provided me several benefits:
There are many different interventions/strategies I can bring to the table to talk about letting go of mistakes (as an example). This helps me feel less pressure to bring fresh content to the same topic.
Athletes can relate. I am talking them “through” their experiences. All athletes can relate to how they handle mistakes. They can’t always relate to a mental skill. By funneling my strategies through the common experiences, it opens up a new level of dialogue and engagement with athletes and coaches.
Increased collaboration. Separate from engagement, it provides collaboration. Athletes and coaches feel more empowered to share how they handle these situations and it opens up a collaborative relationship where I can more easily insert suggestions for growth opportunities. This in turn, helps reduce the feeling of having to “learn another thing”. This also works with my style where I prefer to facilitate conversation and reflection.
THE PATH AHEAD
I’d encourage you to spend more time focusing outward on the athlete experience. You can then begin to look at creating a vast array of training options that are easier for coaches and athletes to understand the connection to their performance.
What are the roles and responsibilities of the athletes in your sport?
What are the common challenges they all talk about? (Not just emotional, but also sport related demands)
What mental skills or strategies would work to support those?
What other strategies have you tried in order to help connect the dots with athletes and coaches?