For decades, there has been an old saying that read as follows:
In terms of sports performance, that means if you fail to plan the development of your athletes properly, you will not be able to maximize their potential.
The planning process in sports is called "Periodization". In the next few months, I will introduce you to the periodization of various performance factors or in other words, how to plan the development of these factors. This article will address the periodization of mental training.
Periodization is the art and the science of planning and integrating all training components (technical, tactical, physical and tactical) and performance factors (speed, strength, power, endurance, agility, nutrition, recovery, etc.) into a sequence that will optimize the development of an athlete, lead to peak performance while avoiding plateau and overtraining.
Just like any skill, mental skills need to be learned, refined and mastered. In order to be able to use them in competition, athletes need to train them in conditions similar to those of competition.
A skill is a skill no matter whether it is a psychological or a technical skill, time and practice is required before it can be used in competition. A careful planning of the mental training of your athletes will maximize the development of their mental abilities and maximize their performance.
Simply put, problems can occur if mental training is not integrated with the athlete's other training activities. Failure to provide mental-training programs that are consistent with the ups and downs of training cycles and the competitive season can lower motivation and self-confidence, increase anxiety, and probably lower athletic performance.
|Review Of Periodization Concept|
It refers to integrating mental training into the yearly training plan in such a way that the mental training objectives for each period and phase are compatible with objectives of the other training component.
A Periodization Approach To Mental Training
Basic mental skills
The goal in mental training is to develop the tools, skills and mental abilities needed to reach an Ideal Performance State (IPS).
The Ideal Performance State (IPS) is the mental state at which the athlete performs at its best. This is the stage where everything flows; everything is easy; you are in the zone with confidence to achieve your mission with nothing to stop you of reaching your goals. Mental skills are developed in order to help the athlete get into that zone or get back into that zone.
Progression In The Development Of Mental-Training Skills
- Plan for long-term involvement in sport
- Offer multiple incentives
- Set goals
- Develop team harmony
- Communicate effectively
- Understand activation, how it affects performance and how it relates to emotional control (i.e. U-Inverted theory)
- Develop energizing skills
- Develop relaxation skills
- Understand attentional control
- Develop concentration
- Develop visualization
- Develop refocusing
- Understand concept of IPS
- Identify IPS
- Develop a pre-competition strategy to evoke and maintain their IPS
- Develop a competition strategy to evoke and maintain their IPS
- Emphasize individual programs
- Encourage athletes to use visualization
- Incorporate mental-training skills and strategies into practices
- Continually evaluate skills and strategies in competitions
Develop Emotional Control
Develop Attentional Control
Developing Pre-competition & Competition Strategies
Applying Skills & Strategies
Periodization Of Mental Skills
Periodization Of A Mental Skill
Introduction to the skill (Explain concept)
Some of the mental skills:
- Energizing (activation)
Periodization Of Other Components Of Sport Psychology
Goal setting concept
Pre-competition and Competition Strategies (PCS)
Integrating Mental Training Into The Periodization
The design of the mental-training component of the yearly training plan should parallel that of the physical, technical and tactical training component. Objectives of each component - including mental training - should be closely parallel with the general objectives of each period/phase.
|Objectives Of Each Phase Of Training|
* A focus plan is a combination of pre-competition and competition strategies.
A plan remains a plan. It is a guide that leads in the right direction. Just like a road map, it helps in getting from point A to point B. However, you will come across obstacles or roadblocks where you will have no choice but modify and adapt your plan to keep moving forward.
It is what planning and integrating is all about; being able to develop a solid plan and have the flexibility to adapt it when required. Softball being such a mental game, a well-designed mental training plan will, without a doubt, contribute in enhancing performance on the field.
About The Author:
Marc Dagenais, B.Sc., MHK, CSCS, is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Personal Trainer in addition to working as an assistant softball coach for Simon Fraser University. He also runs a website on performance enhancement, training and conditioning for softball - www.softballperformance.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.