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Overcoming Adversity

This Week in Mental Training: Acceptance to Overcome Adversity

Last week’s installment of “this week in mental training” discussed the use of purposeful routines as an effective way to manage effort and recovery throughout a competition.  Routines are useful for maintaining a present-minded focus especially when coupled with the mental skill of acceptance.

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Individuals who are confident in themselves and their abilities exhibit high levels of acceptance for their shortcomings. Acceptance for events outside of one’s control in the present moment (past shots, rankings, and fixed personal attributes) results in greater effort and the ability to overcome adversity over the course of a career. Effective athletes train themselves to have “a short memory” (a.k.a. acceptance) for mistakes in order to become fully immersed in the present moment once again. Lack of acceptance leads to wasted energy and attention which serves as a drain to the pursuit of long-term goals.

Please reach out to us for further information regarding individualized training to maximize the performance of your student-athlete as we continue to pursue our mission: “to assist the long-term development of our student-athletes by creating a mindset of continuous improvement through preparation, competition, and self-evaluation … resulting in a community of excellence!”

All the best,

Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M. (matt.cuccaro@juniorsports.com)

and

Scott Swainston, M.S. (scott.swainston@juniorsports.com)

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Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.

Matt Cuccaro is the Director of Mental Training at Junior Sports Corporation (JSC) on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Since joining JSC in 2006, Matt has trained numerous American Junior Golf Association Junior All-Americans, IJGT champions, as well as PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour Players from around the world. He received his Masters of Education in Counseling/Sport Psychology from Boston University and is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.  Follow Matt on Twitter at @MentalCoachMatt  

 

 

Scott Swainston

Scott Swainston is in his third year at Junior Sports Corporation as the Assistant Director of Mental Training.  His experience started at Georgia Southern University where he received his Master’s degree in Sport Psychology.  While at Southern he worked with collegiate student-athletes on the mental aspect of high performance in a variety of sports.  His experience has continued since joining JSC, working with athletes who compete at the junior, amateur, and professional level.  In addition to his responsibilities at the Academies Scott works closely with the International Junior Golf Tour; traveling to tournaments to work with players from all over the world on their mental approach to the game.  Scott continues to be an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.  You can Follow Scott Swainston on Twitter at @ScottSwainston  

The Performance Cycle

Performance Cycle: The following training model is the ultimate key to continuous improvement and the opportunity to reach your full potential.

Mental Training Cycle

This training model will assist your development by…

-Creating a personalized training plan

-Building confidence

-Promoting self-evaluation

-Establishing ownership for personal growth

-Preventing burnout

-Assisting planning/communication between players, parents, coaches

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Matt CuccaroMatt Cuccaro is the Director of Mental Training at Junior Sports Corporation (JSC) on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Since joining JSC in 2006, Matt has trained numerous junior All-Americans, college players, and professional athletes from around the world. He received his Masters of Education in Counseling/Sport Psychology from Boston University and is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Follow him on twitter @MentalCoachMatt

Tiger-like Focus – IJGT Educational Series

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.– Last weekend Tiger Woods captured his 17th World Golf Championships (WGC) title at the Cadillac Championship  in Doral, Fla., after beginning the final round with a four-stroke lead. Woods has never lost on tour when holding at least a four-shot lead entering the final round. In total, Woods has converted 40 of 42 outright 54-hole leads into wins on the PGA TOUR and is now 8-8 converting 54-hole leads into wins at WGC events. Nothing short of impressive – but what can the average or aspiring amateur golfer learn from Woods’s success?

Any golfer, professional and junior alike, that has played in a competitive golf event has felt the pressure of the final round. Whether attempting to break 80, shatter a personal record or trying to win the event, the final round provides psychological challenges not found in any other round.

1a1f476989e50cf55fa7ab6613317d0fThoughts during the final round are absolutely related to the outcome of the tournament. The body does not move or react without thoughts. Being aware of the way thoughts, feelings and actions work together will change the outcome of a round. Director of Mental Training, Matt Cuccaro explains how self-talk (or the voice inside your head) controls attitude, emotions and, when used effectively, is a helpful tool to focus attention in competition.

When beginning the final round in the lead, it is tempting to use “Perfect” phrases during self-talk. “Perfect” phrases include things like ‘I have to’ and ‘I must.’ These phrases add stress to rounds and demand exact precision. Players like Woods have found a way to balance the natural tendency of these thoughts with “Neutral” phrases like ‘focus on the target’ and ‘one shot at a time.’

Woods is the epitome of what strong mental training can do for a competitive golfer in a final round pinch. If you need help navigating self-talk during competitive rounds, set up a consultation with Cuccaro or assistant Director of Mental Training, Scott Swainston. Swainston will be on-site at three IJGT Events during the Spring season: #RocktheSocks Open at Bulle Rock presented by KENTWOOL Socks , the Chocolate Challenge at Hershey  and the Bridgestone Tournament of Champions. 

(PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Skipper, NYTimes.com )

What is Mental Training?

What is Mental Training?

Mental Training is a huge aspect of sports training, but what exactly is Mental Training?  Below you will find the top 5 misconceptions heard about the mental game.  Opposite those misconceptions you will find explanations to clarify the philosophy of the Junior Sports Corporation mental training program.

Mental Training Isn’t…  Mental Training Is…
“Just think positive” Thinking positive is great, and definitely leads to better results than thinking negatively.  The reality of sport, however, is that things do not always go as planned.  Learning to effectively deal with reality by focusing on the present is the true challenge.  Simply saying things like, “I got this” or “I can do it” aren’t nearly as helpful as more on-task thoughts like, “pick a line” or “feel the speed.”
“Forget bad shots” Neuroscience tells us that we don’t have the capability to simply forget.  The most important aspect following any shot, regardless of the outcome, is to accept the shot.  That means you have completely come to terms with where the ball has come to rest.  There is nothing you can do at that point, except learn.
“Practice makes perfect” The old adage that practice makes perfect implies that there is a “perfect” out there.  In golf that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Quality practice is about stretching your current abilities by challenging yourself.  If you have set up the proper challenge you will make the mistakes necessary to learn and build skill.
“Mental Training is a quick fix”

Mental training is more of a marathon than a sprint.  Building healthy habits for competition and practice takes time.  Training your mind works very similar to building technique in your golf swing.  It takes purpose, learning from mistakes, and tune-ups over time.   The foundation of our mental training program is developing a mindset of continuous improvement.

“Mental training is only for someone with a problem or for when you are playing poorly” Mental training is for anyone looking to improve their approach to the game.  Time after time you hear elite athletes discussing the journey and their continuous desire to get better.  Continuous improvement is achieved by seeking challenge and developing curiosity in practice.  This will ensure that you are doing all you can to reach your full potential.

Mental training is about developing a mindset which allows you to constantly challenge yourself.  Seeking challenge will allow you to learn more about yourself, and deal with the realities in front of you.  Athletes who are able to do these things will maximize their abilities throughout the ongoing journey of development.

[separator text=”About the Author”]

Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.Matt Cuccaro is the Director of Mental Training at Junior Sports Corporation (JSC) on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Since joining JSC in 2006, Matt has trained numerous American Junior Golf Association Junior All-Americans, IJGT champions, as well as PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour Players from around the world. He received his Masters of Education in Counseling/Sport Psychology from Boston University and is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.  Follow Matt on Twitter at @MentalCoachMatt external_link.png

 

 

 

Scott SwainstonScott Swainston is in his third year at Junior Sports Corporation as the Assistant Director of Mental Training.  His experience started at Georgia Southern University where he received his Master’s degree in Sport Psychology.  While at Southern he worked with collegiate student-athletes on the mental aspect of high performance in a variety of sports.  His experience has continued since joining JSC, working with athletes who compete at the junior, amateur, and professional level.  In addition to his responsibilities at the Academies Scott works closely with the International Junior Golf Tour; traveling to tournaments to work with players from all over the world on their mental approach to the game.  Scott continues to be an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.  You can Follow Scott Swainston on Twitter at @ScottSwainston external_link.png