Coaching the Mind – PART 3: The Next Step for Personal Training

Self belief, in my opinion, is the single most essential characterising trait of the champion athlete. However, like motivation, concentration, a positive attitude, and so on, it’s a learned behaviour – and one which you can help build in your clients.

Without doubt the biggest influence upon self belief and self confidence is the ability to cope with mistakes, failures, poor performances, and outright rejection in your life. Everyone can believe in themselves when things are going well! It’s only when the chips are down and your back is to the wall that your underlying self belief is really tested, and either found wanting, or is strengthened by the adversity.

So teach your clients some strategies for dealing with the ‘down’ times. One way to do this is to encourage a positive self talk through the use of positive affirmation statements – short, powerful phrases about what you want to be true for you. For example, “I’m motivated and enthusiastic about training now”, or “I enjoy feeding my body healthful foods every day”, or “It’s easy for me to be calm and focused under pressure now”, and so on.

Of course, this is supported by your talk to your clients: Of course you can do it! Stick with it! You’ll make it! You deserve success. You’ve got what it takes. Persevere. Persist. All champions do.

One of the most important concepts in performance psychology that every athlete wants to know about, and master, is the idea of emotional state. You know, and have experienced many different states : anger; sadness; boredom; jealousy; happiness; determination; excitement; and so on. Yet states don’t just ‘jump’ on you out of the blue, do they? You don’t suddenly experience anxiety, rage, or loneliness, for no reason do you?

States are effects – they are a consequence of something you’re doing in your mind. How you think affects how you feel. Teach your clients to control their thoughts to take charge of their emotions.
One simple technique I use with my athletes is called the ‘present moment’ technique., and it’s an effective way to help maintain focus and concentration.

The technique is simply to take ten seconds paying attention to some external visual aspects of your surroundings; ten seconds to your breathing; and then ten seconds visualising success from an ‘in-body’ perspective.

Visualisation is a common skill we all use all the time; to achieve anything, to do anything, we first ‘see’ ourselves doing it. So visualisation is not something strange or difficult, but something we all constantly use in order to function in the world ….. we all can visualise. The trouble is, many people use visualisation negatively – they imagine all the bad things that could happen, and then hope they don’t!

The important thing to realise is that we human beings are a lot like guided missiles – we move in the direction of our regular and consistent thoughts and imaginings; we move toward what we picture in our mind – particularly what we picture with vividness and strong feeling. Whenever we associate a vivid picture with a strong feeling, it has a magnetic attraction.

So you want to encourage your clients to have a positive focus, and you want to encourage them to practice their visualisation skills. There is overwhelming scientific evidence which demonstrates the undeniable fact that regular visualisation can improve sports performances – and it works because visualisation has a measurable, physiological effect on our body. When you visualise doing a movement, play, stroke, shot, or performance, there is a measurable response by the specific muscles used in that activity in response to your imagined movements.

Neurologically, your body can’t tell the difference between a ‘real’ experience, and a vividly imagined one, and this makes it possible to ‘program in’ desired shots, strokes, plays, movements, behaviours, and even emotional responses prior to doing them. In other words you can ‘groove in’ to your body at a cellular level, a ‘muscle memory’ of what you want your body to do.

For more details on any of the above Mind Matters for PT’s consult the Sportsmind or Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings books.

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed “Sportsmind – An Athlete’s Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training” and “Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings”; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph’s College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email :
website :



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