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Applying mental training in individualised team or player’s preparation. Model of player’s individual preparation.

13. 07. 2018

Current trends in sports implement mental preparation into daily training process of players and teams. Besides the development of tactical, conditioning and technical skills of players, professional sporting clubs put the same emphasis on increasing mental skills of players. As a result, the players are able to perform at their highest level in key moments of the session.

Mental preparation is a key pillar for HDTS model of player’s individual preparation. It increases the quality and effectiveness of the training process. It impacts all aspects of sport preparation – technical skills, tactical and conditioning preparation, health status, regeneration, drinking regime and nutrition. Mental training lies in the middle of the HDTS model because it integrates all the areas mentioned above. As a result, it creates a synergic effect of training that enhances performances of players and teams. The process of HDTS individual player’s preparation includes physical training, diagnostics of players and teams (health status, mental diagnostics, physical skills diagnostics) and results interpretation used for goal setting for further development of players or teams.

The main aim of mental training is to enhance players or team performance by improving their mental skills. Four main pillars of mental preparation are:

  • Goal-setting
  • Motivation
  • Handling critical situations
  • Teambuliding

The first area, goal setting, is the first step towards improvement. Based on the results interpretation of diagnostics, the goal is set and activities leading towards the goal are developed. It is important to get the player involve in this phase to enhance his motivation to reach the goals. In other words, the player needs to be the one who formulates the goals while coach is just a mentor. The developed activities are then implemented into the training process of the player and the team.

To be able to accomplish the goals, the player needs to feel motivated. Motivation is, therefore, the second pillar of mental preparation. It is an inner power that drives us to act or behave in different patterns. Working with the players‘ motivation is a long-term and systematic process that results in positive attitudes focused on constant improvement.

Another key area of mental preparation is handling critical situations. These situations (e.g. losing an important game, playing shoot outs) can build up pressure in players‘ minds. Stress then affects player‘s ability to focus when it matters the most. Handling stress, maintaining concentration or dealing with emotions are, therefore, key elements of mental training. As a result, the players are able to „give their best“ when it matters the most.

To be successful in team sports, individual qualities are not enough. The winning team consists of high-quality individuals who cooperate together effectively. The optimal team climate is usually the key for success in team sports. In team preparation we, therefore, optimize the team dynamics through different activities and processes focused on cooperation, communication, team cohesion, etc.

Mental preparation can increase the effectiveness of training process by integrating all aspects of professional sport preparation, improving mental skills of players and creating proactive climate in teams. That is the main reason why mental training lies in the centre of HDTS player’s or team’s individual preparation and why it has become a daily part of training process in professional clubs.