At day one of the Steel Sports Coaching Summit, coaches and directors gathered from across the United States to listen and engage with keynote speaker Dr. Jim Taylor, an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of sport and parenting.
Dr. Taylor was excited to join the Steel Sports leadership team as he is a huge supporter of our mission: “At Steel Sports, our mission is to inspire youth to reach their potential, on and off the field, by developing them as athletes and people through the Steel Sports coaching system.”
Most of Dr. Taylor’s presentation was about the mental side of sports. He introduced the idea of athletes creating a mental toolbox. This mental toolbox is something a player can use in practice and on game day to fix the inevitable “flat tires” they will experience as a competitive athlete. Dr. Taylor shared a few mental tools such as imagery, routines, breathing, and self-talk.
This mental toolbox can be used in other areas. Like when it’s time to go on a job interview or ask a significant other out on a date.
This topic made us recall an article titled “Here’s why businesses should hire athletes.” The skills and experience gained through sports translate into marketable leadership skills.
At Steel Sports, our coaches are educators as well as developers of people.
Along the same lines, Steve Jones, Director of Steel Sports Coaching System, led an inspiring session called “Why We Are Succeeding.” Steve highlighted one of the many examples of our athletes practicing our core values of teamwork, respect, integrity, and commitment. In this case, a younger refusing to throw the ball in because he knew the ball went off of him.
This is exactly what our mission is all about. Yes, we want to win soccer games. However, any win that compromises our core values is not a victory.
In Dr. Taylor’s second talk of the day, he shared that in his teenage years, he was a nationally ranked slalom skier. There was another competitor from his ski club, who was not very successful at skiing. Dr. Taylor was confused about why this boy continued the grind each day. He did not have the physical tools it took to compete at a national level. However, this other skier was always at the facility early, analyzing video, and doing everything possible to improve his skiing ability. He did not have the genes to be an elite skier. Years later, Dr. Taylor was not surprised to watch this gentleman become a world-class surgeon.
At Steel Sports, our goal is to create an environment where we develop world-class performers. Our youngsters will probably not be world-class soccer players. However, they will leave with a mental toolbox and the character to succeed in whatever career they choose to pursue.
During Dr. Taylor’s discussion, Ian Hughes, National Director of Curriculum & Development added, “We want our coaches to be good at a little bit of everything: from teaching soccer technique to tactical analysis, to fitness, nutrition, as well as experience in sports psychology. We will take pieces of this mental training and incorporate it into our soccer curriculum.”
Lastly, Dr. Taylor finished up talking about mental imagery. This is not only a mental thing. You can fool your body that you are actually performing the act. Not only visualize it, but we want kids to feel it. Research shows the mind does not know the difference. Check out the below video with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn talking about getting up to the mountain 20 minutes early to visualize going down the mountain in her mind.
Expect to see mental training at your team’s practices & games this season.