AFL/Aussie Rules Football Training: ROUND 2 MINDSET!

Last week I posted 10 gems from coach Dan Abrahams who does a heap of work around the psychological aspect of performance, the most underutilized area of ​​sport performance in local/amateur sport.

Hopefully you were able to use some of the pointers from last week and here’s some more to get your psychological juices flowing.

  1. For game day objectives, make them specific and break them down as much as possible, make them controllable or as close to as possible and make them positive in the form of towards/approach goals
  2. To fuel self belief past performances can mediate feelings of confidence so reflect on your best one’s and what they felt/looked like and what emotions and body movements you exhibited in those games, celebrating you at your best vividly.
  3. How your body interacts with your environment is heavily influenced by your psychological state at that moment of interaction – every action of every second. For example the style of how you tackle is mediated by whether your psychological state is alert/energetic v flat/lethargic. Players should aim to build the capacity to manage mindset/mental state in order to make sure body-environment interactions are optimal at all times so coaches should focus on mindset before game model/style.
  4. Forget winning and instead strive to execute every action with positive intent. Instead of being results driven judge your game on how many actions you executed with this positive intent, creating a kind of feedback loop.
  5. Mindset should be at the front of your performance assessment so if you were to grade yourself a 9/10 for mindset than what would it look like and what would others see but than also if you gave yourself a 4 what would be different? Now compare them.
  6. To build your own responsibility, set individual objectives that are specific and controllable, develop mental skills to help your attention/intensity/intent, find social support and diarise your (sporting) life often.
  7. Along with attention, concentration is your foundation in team sports as it drives mental effort which influences physical and technical functioning along with driving anticipation which influences decision making and tactical execution.
  8. There always 2 types of narrative being “your” narrative and “the” narrative, which are often very different but it is your narrative that has the greatest impact. Some ways to take control of your own narrative is to take control of you during the week and the game via a “I am in charge mindset”. You need to aim to dominate yourself by being in your high performance mindset, being prepared to dealing quickly with all that happens during the game effectively and ruthlessly, expressing emotion but controlling that expression, be open to the fact you’ll get distracted at times but that you’ll also get on top of those times and being aware you might even get anxious but then getting right back on the front foot ready to play with positive intent regardless of that anxiousness. Controlling the narrative is to control the game which isn’t always possible but controlling your narrative gives you a better chance. Your job on the ground is to take charge and control of yourself, to dominate your mindset via self-talk, body language for 120mins of football and nothing/no one will take you out of your high performance mindset. Finally you can take control of your and/or the narrative but still lose but that’s sport isn’t it?
  9. Confidence looks expressive, not passive. It looks focused on tasks, not distracted. It looks emotional, not emotionless. It consists of positive intention, not inhibition. It has optimal intensity, not being overly or under aroused. To develop this you need train with all these in mind because that’s where it starts.
  10. Questions to ask yourself to address confidence and attention – what did my best game look like? What does my dream game look/feel like? What do others see when I play with confidence? What behaviors do I engage in that help me build confidence? Who helps me to feel confident and what do they need to say? What internal noise tends to distract me? What external distractions impact my game. What can I become curious about in my competition environment that can help me have an external focus of attention? What can I control, or get close to controlling, when I play? Who can help me stay focused?

Again, good luck to all players and coaches this weekend!

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