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Can you benefit from Mental Game Coaching?

The first question I get asked when I let athletes, teams and parents of athletes know who I am and what I do is “What is a Mental Game coach?” In other words, “What is it that you do? How are you helping athletes?”

To put it simply, I help athletes be the best versions of themselves that they can be.

The athlete is already practicing their sport, a lot. They are already (age appropriate, of course) working on their physical conditioning, weight training, etc. to be as strong, fast and as capable physically that they can be. However, the part of their game that goes unused as a conditioning, skill building tool is their mind.

Mental Performance coaching does just that. It provides a set of skills an athlete can learn and use to help them perform at their absolute best.

An athlete can be as physically fit as possible. They could have taken the 10,000 reps appropriate for their particular sport. However, they still get tight, overly anxious, lose focus, overthink, as well as a myriad of other challenges when it comes to the game. What happens? They do not perform up to their expectations. It wasn’t for lack of preparation physically. That lack of preparation came mentally.

Even when you ask athletes and coaches about the mental game many will say how important it is, but unfortunately many do not know how to work on building those mental skills.

That’s where Mental Game Coaches can help.

I have had the opportunity to study Mental Game Coaching and Mental Performance training under the tutelage of Bill Cole, MS/MA. Bill directs the International Mental Game Coaching Association (IMGCA) and has worked with athletes or coaches of 25 world and national teams, 11 international and Olympic teams, 32 professional sports teams, associations or leagues, and of athletes who have won 40 world and national championships.

Here is Bill’s take on what Mental Game Coaching can do for an athlete.

Mental Game Coaching - The Process, Measuring Progress and Outcomes

Bill Cole MS, MA - Founder and President/International Mental Game Coaching Association

Mental game coaching is an educational learning experience. It's an opportunity to grow

as an athlete and as a person. It's an enlightening growth process, and a very

interesting one. You will learn more about yourself as an athlete, and as a person.

Even though the main focus is to help you improve your mental game as an athlete, you

will also discover ways to more consistently learn, change and perform in these other


• Academic studies and exams

• Speeches, presentations, and interviews

• Sales, networking and influencing situations

• Music, writing, art and drama

• Stressful life situations

The Mental Game Coaching Session

The mental game session is a special time that is all yours for you to use any way you

desire. It's your own personal mental training class and consulting session. It's a chance

to receive personalized teaching from an expert in the mental game. It's a custom

coaching class that focuses on your mind. In each mental game coaching session you

will be able to:

1. Discuss any performance issues that trouble you or concern you.

2. Explore any technical issues that affect your mental game.

3. Engage in creative exploration of how to resolve any mental game issues.

4. Understand the mind-body connection and how to make it work for you.

5. Gain additional perspectives on your sport experiences and challenges.

6. Feel deeply listened to and respected as you discuss your problems.

7. Assess your mental strengths and weaknesses.

8. Devise a mental training plan to help you overcome mental weaknesses.

9. Discover learning experiences and exercises to help you become self-aware.

10.Share the kind of things and ask the kind of questions you would normally not be

able to share with your friends, parents or coaches.

11. Grow from completing mental training homework.

12. Talk about any emotional obstacles holding you back.

13.Be assessed on a variety of mental measures to increase your awareness.

14.Receive assistance in making better decisions about your issues.

15.Benefit from a viewpoint other than your own.

16. Make action plans to bring your goals to reality.

17. Learn a wide variety of mental skills.

18.See charts and illustrations to help you understand key concepts.

19. Learn self-regulation skills for emotional, mental and physical control.

20.Ask any questions you may have about your sports experiences.

21. Discuss sensitive issues in a safe, confidential environment.

22. Gain the perspective from someone who has been a successful athlete, coach and

mental trainer.

23.Set up weekly and monthly structures that help you stay accountable to your goals

and dreams.

24.Replace negative thought patterns and images with positive ones.

25. Help you realize higher levels of confidence.

26.Set goals that help you learn faster, perform better and enjoy yourself more.

27. Familiarize yourself with the zone and be able to enter it more often.

28. Navigate the often-turbulent waters of change.

29. Experience and learn high quality communication skills.

30.Rehearse mental skills.

31. Have a dialogue with a coach that helps you think and solve your own problems.

32. Hear advice, suggestions, and counsel.

33.Receive ongoing support and feedback.

How You Know You Are Improving Your Mental Game

As you master your mental game there will be easily measured objective signposts that

confirm your improvement in your sport. These might be records, times, win-loss

outcomes, etc. To learn about these 100-plus objective goals you can achieve, read our

companion article, Are You Motivated to Achieve? You also want to notice the subjective

measures of your progress with your mental game. These are less obvious, but they are

just as real, and just as important. Here are 66 subjective mental game goals you can

strive toward.

1. Improve your mental toughness.

2. Improve your concentration.

3. More confidence.

4. Enjoy competition more.

5. Understand yourself more as a person.

6. Understand yourself more as an athlete.

7. More positive self-talk and mental images.

8. Handle pressure better.

9. Enjoy your sport more.

10. Progress accelerates.

11.Skills become more automatic.

12. More happiness and satisfaction.

13.Reduce and eliminate a self-critical attitude.

14.Reduce and eliminate self-defeating anger.

15.Better ball judgment.

16. Make better decisions.

17. More control over your thoughts.

18. More control over your shots.

19. Enter the zone more often, and when it counts.

20. People who know you volunteer that they see you improving.

21. People you don’t know volunteer that they see you improving.

22. Improve your positive mindset.

23. Overcome the fear of failure.

24. More patience with yourself and others.

25."Playing to win" more than "playing not to lose".

26.Reduce and eliminate self-sabotage.

27.Stay calmer and more poised under pressure.

28. Play as well in an event as you do in practice.

29.Reduce and eliminate perfectionism.

30.Reduce and eliminate mental blocks.

31. Fewer stress symptoms.

32. Fewer worry and nerves.

33.Better sportsmanship.

34.Analyze situations better and solve problems faster.

35. Improve motivation.

36.Better energy levels.

37.Better mental stamina.

38.Reduce and eliminate procrastination.

39.Better media relations.

40. Play better against weaker opponents.

41. Play better against stronger opponents.

42.Close out leads better.

43. Improve your stress control.

44.Keep slumps away and minimize them when they appear.

45.Reduce and eliminate choking.

46. Overcome the fear of success.

47.Better life-balance skills.

48. Handle setbacks better.

49. Handle opponent’s mind games better.

50. Improve communication skills.

51. Improve anticipation skills.

52. Improve mental readiness skills.

53.Skills take less effort.

54.Better learning strategies.

55. Transfer mental lessons from sport to the rest of your life.

56.Become aware of yourself as an athlete.

57.Reduce and eliminate fears and doubts.

58. Improve emotional intelligence.

59.Recover mentally from mistakes more readily.

60. Improve self-coaching skills.

61.Control your muscle relaxation better.

62.Control your breathing better.

63. Improve your will to win.

64. Not embarrass yourself in a competition.

65. Feel comfortable enough to try new things.

66.Keep your mental game together more regularly.

Mental Mastery

In essence, mental game coaching is a valuable, specialized educational experience, one

that will benefit you far beyond your sport experiences. It's a lifetime investment in

yourself as a person. The insights you learn and the skills you build will carry over to

many important varied applications for school, business and life itself.

Bill Cole, MS, MA is one of the world's leading mental game coaches who has been the

mental game coach or sports psychology consultant with athletes or coaches of 25 world

and national teams, 11 international and Olympic teams, 32 professional sports teams,

associations or leagues, and of athletes who have won 40 world and national

championships. He has been the mental game trainer for thousands of athletes, coaches

and parents in over 100 sports, at all ages and skill levels. He has been mental coach or

consultant to Olympic athletes who have won bronze, silver and gold medals and has

coached recreational, junior high, high school, college, professional, world champion and

world record-holding athletes. He was the first person in the world to be awarded a Bachelor

of Science (with honors) in Sport Psychology, and his advanced degrees include Master of

Science in Physical Education with specialization in sport psychology and Master of Arts in

counseling psychology. Mr. Cole is the founder and President of the International Mental

Game Coaching Association, the global leader in certification of mental game coaches. Read over 600 free articles on mental peak performance at

"An authority on sports psychology" - Stanford University Baseball Team

"One of the top peak performance coaches on the ATP Pro Tennis Tour." - Israeli Davis Cup Tennis Team

"A world-renowned peak performance coach." - British Broadcasting Corporation (The BBC)

"Bill Cole is a leading author on sports psychology." - Yahoo! Sports

"Bill Cole is a pioneer in the field of sports psychology.” –


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