Training Your Mind In The Off Season

Training Your Mind for Success in the Off Season

The off-season is a challenging time for many athletes I work with. Some athletes worry that they may lose what they have gained in the season while others are concerned that they need to train hard to be ready for the next season. From these stand points they are right; however, the mentality needs to change in order to be successful for when the season begins.

First, for a majority of athletes, the holiday season brings them a lot of non-sport related enjoyment, such as being with their family, enjoying other parts of their lives, and being away from the vigorous academic schedule. During these moments it is important for athletes to pay attention to what produces great feelings of happiness, relaxation, and enjoyment and see how they can implement these feelings and thoughts into their in-season training and games. They may realize that their relationship with friends or siblings is closer or different. Their daily habits may change. Some of these routines can be added to the in-season to help better manage their stress and elevate their positive emotions.

Second, during the off-season athletes may take advantage of this time to analyze what enhanced their performance and feelings during competition. Also analyze how their relationships were best managed with their coaches, parents, teammates, and ultimately look to set goals and even create a modified schedule for the season to improve the quality of each day. This is critical to success because the athlete may start spending more time enhancing their performance and less time struggling.

Third, athletes should challenge themselves to improve their positivity and accept very early on any obstacles that may come their way when the season begins. In sports psychology we often look to shape athletes perceptions of tough situations as an opportunity or challenge instead of perceiving them as a threat. The off season is a great time to work on enhancing your mentality and shifting your perceptions to be able to cope and perform better when it is time to re-enter the pressure moments of regular season games, matches, and competition.

Patrick Albán, M.S.

Director of Mental Training, SPMI