If you trust the training, the training will kick in, says Mark Jeffery, a former army officer and Army Tennis Champion in the U.K.
He uses strategies he learned in the army to teach athletes how to trust in all that they’ve learned in training.
Athletes, like people in the military, can be plagued with uncertainty, nervousness and doubt.
Go On Auto Pilot
Sports kids need to go on autopilot, allowing their instincts to guide them. Otherwise, they will analyze and think–and that’s a bad idea, he told us during an interview for our Ultimate Sports Parent podcast.
In tennis, athletes’ bodies are naturally primed to be alert and to fight stiffly. “We’re primed as cavemen,” he says. “The body is essentially stiff and tight, you are primed for a fight.”
But sports kids need to overcome this and follow the example of Muhammad Ali, he says. “He was loose and relaxed,” says Jeffery.
Sports kids can learn how to be more intuitive and relaxed by training for specific situations that create pressure.
“You need to train under simulated pressure. If you don’t know what pressure is, the only time you encounter it is in a match when it envelops you and overwhelms you, then you don’t play your best.”
To train under simulated pressure, Jeffery provides a tennis example. He suggested sports kids establish a target to serve into, and to make it a small target. This exercise will help create pressure and teach kids how to respond to it in training.
In addition, athletes need to tell themselves what they need to do, saying “I will,” instead of “I will try.”
“‘I will’ is to honor your promise to yourself in the era of uncertainty. Most people are uncertain, they don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s saying, ‘my aim is to do my best.’” Kids shouldn’t hedge on their commitment, because it will give their brains an exit, he says.
It’s possible this strategy will create self-imposed pressure, he notes. It’s important that sports kids educate themselves about pressure and how to cope with it.
“Be educated about pressure and train under it and make it your friend and look forward to it,” says Jeffery.
“Trust the training,” says Mark Jeffery, a London-based former Army officer and Army tennis champion who is helping organize an online summit, “Winning Summit,” which includes a Sept. 19 event for sports parents:
Listen to our podcast with Jeffery here:
10-Minute Pregame Prep: 8 Mental Game Lessons for Young Athletes
Sports kids can now learn how to manage the expectations they feel, cope with pregame pressure, and take charge of their confidence before a game or competition–in just 10 minutes a day!
They can learn how to focus on the things that help them, rather than hurt them. They can even learn how to use pressure and pregame butterflies to improve their focus and energy. All of this is just 10-minutes before competition!
In addition, kids can learn how to trust in their training and “win ugly.” That means they let go of trying to perform perfectly and do whatever it takes to get the job done. When they do this, they can play intuitively, “get in the zone,” perform better and have more fun.