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