Mindset First (1 of 2)

It’s the foundation for learning and improving.

It’s perhaps the single most important factor in one’s overall success.

It’s also the first topic that I teach in all my psychological skills coaching programs.

Specifically, the Growth Mindset contributes to…

  1. greater effort even in areas where he or she is lacking
  2. the ability to bounce back from setbacks
  3. increased confidence

It would be so much easier to coach an athlete with these qualities isn’t it?

So why aren’t we teaching our athletes about Mindset?

“Coaches have the misunderstanding that Mindset has to be taught at the expense of valuable practice time.” Coach Hansen

Unfortunately, a handful of coaches still feel that mindset or resilience is something that you either have or don’t, and that it cannot be taught.

However, most coaches do not teach mindset because they either do not know how to, or because they assume that teaching Mindset would be at the expense of valuable practice time.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the teaching of mindset or any psychological skills should be put into context and integrated into the teaching of technical and tactical skills whenever possible. Instead of taking away valuable practice time, it helps the athlete to learn more effectively.

My intention for writing this two-part blog post is to share how we can integrate the teaching of Mindset into our coaching practices.

Specifically, I will be sharing how you can prime the athlete before practice, apply process based feedback during practice, and to make use of the ESL reflection method when you review your session

How to integrate the teaching of Mindset into

But first, what’s Mindset?

Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck, an expert on Mindset, defines it as:

“A self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves. Believing that you are either “intelligent” or “unintelligent” is a simple example of a mindset.”

Professor Dweck’s studies (documented in her book: “Mindset”) show us that those people who have longer, more successful careers in any field share the same type of “Growth Mindset”. Those that fail to reach their full potential do so, because they have more of a “Fixed Mindset”.

The Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Mindset_Table Tennis

Implications of the Fixed Mindset

The Fixed Mindset focuses on winning and looking good and this is what we call a need for social approval. It is one of the most common reasons athletes fear failure. Social approval occurs when athletes worry about letting others down, embarrassing themselves in front of others, or disappointing others.

An athlete in the Fixed Mindset will have trouble overcoming setbacks and investing effort in areas where she is lacking, since she will be very reluctant to expose her weakness and risk “looking silly”. She will also struggle to feel better quickly when down.

The athlete in the Fixed Mindset will also be more likely to suffer from performance anxiety since he will be so worried about losing and being judged that he is likely to be overwhelmed by pressure and will be unable to focus on execution.

Is it possible to never think in the Fixed Mindset?

Nope! That is not possible, and it is part of what makes us human.

What we could do though is to develop awareness such that we are able to catch ourselves thinking in the Fixed Mindset and learn to refocus on thoughts aligned with the Growth Mindset instead.

Be back in a week or two with the second part of this post! If you can’t wait to find out more about how to coach Mindset, you can check out the related articles below or click on the ‘Growth Mindset’ category.

Coach Hansen

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