The Mental Coach
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Relationships and mind games Liam Clemons Head Coach Boys ’ Cross Country - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Mental Coach. Relationships and mind games Liam Clemons Head Coach Boys ’ Cross Country Boys ’ & Girls ’ Distance Trabuco Hills High School [email protected] A Strong start. All starts with good communication skills LISTEN!!!!!

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The Mental Coach

Relationships and mind games

Liam Clemons

Head Coach Boys’ Cross Country

Boys’ & Girls’ Distance

Trabuco Hills High School

[email protected]

A Strong start

  • All starts with good communication skills

    • LISTEN!!!!!

  • Good communication leads to a less stressful environment. Being able to express needs, feelings, and opinions will make my athletes feel more relaxed and comfortable in a group setting. They will go into races feeling like they have had all of their questions answered. Then, they focus better on the task at hand.

The goal

  • Obviously we want to win

    • We can’t win if we are not prepared

    • Communication is essential to preparation

  • I have found that my teams perform best when they feel like they are well prepared and can confidently set out to achieve their collective goal. The state championship teams I had in 2006 and 2011 were very confident groups. They felt like they were in control of a race no matter who they were racing. They prepared to control the pace and tactics in practice every day. When they lined up at the start of a race they were confident that they would execute their plan and control the variables in that race. This outlook led to them achieving levels of performance that exceeded their goals.


Trust is essential to good communication

How to gain an athlete's trust:

Take a real interest in their lives

Be Honest

Be a chameleon

Explain your workouts and philosophy

Give good feedback

Be consistent



What does service mean?

All athletes, to some extent, want to perform for their coach

Coaches should want to perform for their athletes

Create a culture of service

I try to avoid using the word “my” when talking about the athletes I coach. I tell them that they do not run for me... I coach for them. I try to convey a message that we are at our best when we serve others. I want them to run in the service of each other.

Mentorship not friendship
Mentorship, not friendship

They can be your friend when they graduate college

No Facebook friends

Coaches are like older siblings in the least, but usually more like a parent

Honor that responsibility

My personal mantras:

Always be teaching

Coach the athlete, not the sport

Now that you ve got their attention
Now that you've got their attention...

Time to play mind games

Mind games = mental skills training and mental toughness

My goal is to toughen them up

Think like a Jedi and Talk like one too

Trick them into running fast

Mental toughness
Mental toughness

Start with visualization in a quiet environment

Walk them through a race or the last mile

Talk about the smells and sounds

Use some distractions to test their focus level

Keep them in the moment

After running hundreds of miles, a three-mile race does not sound as difficult. Similarly, after learning to focus and imagine your race with a high level of control and vividness, the athlete is better prepared to focus on race day.

The biggest trick of all
The biggest trick of all...

Teaching them how to calm down and gain self control under pressure.



Centering exercises



Key is to learn that you can only control yourself. Don't worry about what you can't control.

Connecting mental and physical toughness pain threshold
Connecting mental and physical toughness - Pain Threshold

What is it?

Extreme core work designed to push their pain tolerance level higher.

Long planks

Quarter downs

Long leg lifts

Cross Fit routines *

“Most of the time, the guy that wins isn't faster, he is just more stubborn”

– Bob King, Del Campo HS