Mental Conditioning

The purpose of Mental Conditioning at Centercourt Sports is to build the mental skills of athletes of all ages and ability levels to help them compete at their best and reach their goals. Players can expect to learn skills and strategies and work through a distinct program to improve their mental game. Centercourt Sports is proud to have Gary Pritchard as our Director of Mental Conditioning.

Centercourt Sports Mental Conditioning Program Steps Include:

  • Assessment
  • Education
  • Implement strategies
  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Measure / re-assessment

Articles & Resources by Gary Pritchard

We all have the ability to develop mental toughness!!

Here are the basic steps:

  • Develop your awareness: Learn about different mental skills strategies form this site. With some helpful strategies and tips, you will start being aware of what you’re thinking, what you’re focused on, and how those thoughts and feelings are affecting your performance.
  • Become a student of your game: Decide which mental strategies work best for you-  Remember, one size doesn’t fit all !! It’s personal. Skills that work for someone else may not work for you. You have to take an active part in deciding which skills help improve your performance.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Like any skill or strategy, practice improves performance. The one difference and a bonus with mental skills is you can practice many of the strategies in your everyday life as well is in your game. The more practice, the more the skills become automatic. Some of these mental strategies will  start ‘showing up’ in practice and in your everyday life  before they will ‘show up’ in a big game.

Control The Controlables

If you stop and think about your game, there are numerous things that we can’t control and a number of things we can only influence.

Take soccer, lacrosse or tennis… Can you always control the quality of the field/court you play on? Can you control the weather? Can you control the referee? Can you control your teammates or your opponent? Can you control your parents or the fans? How about your coach? How about if you or a teammate gets injured? Or how much time is left in the game or match?

Things we can only influence: The result, the referee, and you scoring a goal or points

There are many things about the game you can’t control but the one thing that we can control is ourselves. In controlling ourselves, we can control things like our thoughts, the ball, our work rate,  I like to simplify it and use “EAR” as a way of remembering what we can control.

We can control “E” for Effort. You see effort is a choice. In any given moment you can choose to give maximum personal effort. Consistent effort leads to increased success. Effort breaks down into many areas. How hard to do work in practice, how hard you are working for the whole game or match. It relates to our effort in the classroom. Some us will not be allowed to play our sport if we don’t do what’s necessary effort wise in the classroom to keep our grades up. Effort is completing the sprints never cutting the corners. It is the decision to work hard in the gym or weight room in the off-season. Effort is a mindset to “never give up” and just keep working, no matter how tough the situation.

For an example with soccer in the Barclays  Premiership League there is a company called Prozone that is employed by many top clubs to measure the players efforts in every match to record how many miles each player runs in a match, the speed in which they run and for how long. They also record the number of tackles and successful passes made. Clubs want to know their players’ efforts are matching up or exceeding their opponents. These diagnostics are used in practice as well for recording their heart rate to be sure players are working at their maximum effort. Think about this effort measuring as it relates to your sport

We can control “A” for our Attitude. Once again, attitude is a choice. There’s nothing that will make you more successful in your sports career or in your life than having a positive attitude. Attitude is all about how we choose to see everything that happens to us. We all have heard that old saying, “the glass is half empty or the glass is half-full” Some people choose to see everything as a glass is half empty or negative. How do we choose to see it? How do you choose to see when the other team or opponent goes up early in the game or match? Do you tank and get negative or do you raise your level of play and get energized by the challenge? Players with a positive attitude always look for the good in others and themselves and find the best in every situation. That’s a winning attitude.

We can control “R” for our Response. We control how we choose to respond to everything that happens to us out on the field or court and in our lives. There’s a formula E+R=O

E (the Event) +(plus) R(your Response) = (will equal) O(your Outcome)

In every sport this formula is happening over and over again. Events are constantly happening: there’s a poor call, lost point, or we just got scored on. All these things are happening in every game and match. How we respond is our choice. That choice (good or bad, wrong or right) creates our outcome.

Let me ask you… Let’s say an opponent takes the ball away from you or scores and easy point. How do you choose to respond? Do your shoulders drop and you slowly walk back disappointed that you lost the ball, or point or do respond immediately to win the ball back or take the next point in the match? How about when the coach gives you feedback about your play? Do respond by resenting being picked on? Or do you listen and focus in on what you need to correct to get better?

The big picture lesson here is understanding that controlling the controllables isn’t just about the your game. All through your life you’re going to have things happen to you that you have no control over. You must practice recognizing what you can and can’t control and influence.

Remember E-A-R and it’s your choice about your Effort, your Attitude and how you choose to Respond to everything that happens to you in your life. The more we practice this the better we become as a person and as a player.

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