So now that you know what you shouldn’t do in practice, you might ask: what should I do? Here are 5 things to focus on:
1.About a minute before your drill, stop talking to the athletes around you. Narrow your focus, do some mental imagery of the upcoming drill, and focus on what you’ll be working on.
2.Get your intensity up (“rev your engine”) before you begin every drill by jumping up and down. Fire your mind up with aggressive thoughts. And explode into the first (and every ) part of practice. Coaches, makes sure you have a clearly identified starting point for every drill, so your athletes get used to going for it from the get-go.
3.Fight for your life in all aspects of practice. Of course, there will be some times when you can’t finish the drill because you’re going all out. Those “failures” are the good kind because you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Learning to never give up after a mistake will serve you well in competitions where even the top athletes make mistakes, but get it right back and fight to the finish.
4.In practice, always go hard till you cross the line or the coach blows the whistle. Coaches, always have a clearly defined finish line or end of a drill in practice so your athletes can get used to going hard in practice to the finish.
5.Rather than looking for those ideal practice conditions, seek out the worst possible conditions. When the conditions are really bad, say “Bring it on,” go for it, and perform the best you can under those difficult conditions (while realizing that it isn’t going to be pretty or perfect). Coaches, create tough conditions in practice so your athletes will learn how to deal with them in competition.
Dr. Jim Taylor is an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of sports performance. He has worked with professional, world-class, collegiate, and junior-elite athletes for 30 years and written eight books related to sport psychology. A former world-ranked alpine ski racer, he is a second-degree black belt in karate, marathon runner, and Ironman triathlete. To learn more, visit www.drjimtaylor.com.