Mental Toughness Through Positive Coaching



High school coaches are transitioning back to the era of creating mental toughness in sport. Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in instances of rhabdomyolysis, a condition caused by extreme physical exertion that can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure. As coaches strive for more mental toughness on their teams, it is important to be aware that true mental toughness can be developed without pushing athletes beyond their physical limits.

The Pendulum of Change

In many ways, we have seen a pendulum swing away from the idea of safe spaces and everyone getting a trophy. Many coaches now see this as a negative trend and are attempting to correct it with higher levels of intensity and physical demands during practice. While there is certainly nothing wrong with striving for higher levels of performance from athletes, it should not come at the expense of their safety and well-being.

Mental Toughness Through Positive Coaching

It is possible to create mental toughness without resorting to extreme intensity or physical harm. When done correctly, positive coaching can help athletes build a sense of resilience and perseverance as they learn how to overcome adversity through hard work and dedication. Here are some tips on how coaches can foster mental toughness through positive coaching:

  • Model resilience—Lead by example by showing your players what it looks like to stay focused and persevere when faced with challenging situations.
  • Provide individualized feedback—Each athlete learns differently so tailor your feedback accordingly. Some may need more structure while others need more freedom; either way make sure you provide frequent encouragement along the way.
  • Encourage goal setting—Having goals allows athletes to stay motivated and focused on continual improvement throughout the season. Help them set achievable goals so they can see tangible results from their hard work.
  • Teach life lessons—This isn’t just about winning or losing but also teaching life lessons such as discipline, commitment, teamwork, respect for others, etc., which will help them succeed both on and off the field/court/track/etc.
  • Foster team spirit—Create a culture where everyone feels valued regardless of ability level or playing time; emphasize that everyone plays an important role in making the team successful.

Creating mental toughness should never come at the expense of physical well-being or safety; nor should it be done through fear tactics or negative reinforcement alone. By utilizing positive coaching methods such as modeling resilience, providing individualized feedback, encouraging goal setting, teaching life lessons, fostering team spirit– coaches can create environments where athletes feel supported while still learning valuable skills needed for success on and off the field/court/track/etc.. It is possible for coaches to strike a balance between developing mental toughness while also keeping safety top priority – if they know how!

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