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Pessimist or Planner?

Mindset Made Simple Tip #30 (Feb, 8, 2021)

What a season! With winter sports wrapping up, some sooner than expected with the cancellation of all Division III winter championships (ugh!), keeping focus and a positive mindset may be more important than ever!

And I bet facility sharing isn’t causing stress for any of you with every single Olympic sport but swimming about to start competing! 😊

With all this in mind, let’s stick with the PROCESS “P” for one more week! (And DIII coaches, if I can help your athletes get through the profound disappointment with a little mindset reset, please reach out!)

Last week we touched on getting our athletes to think about games and practice with the same approach – in either situation, the PROCESS DOES NOT CHANGE.

We pitch, hit, defend, throw, run, kick - and every other skill we can think of – exactly the same (or we should) in practice and in games. The ONLY THING that changes is brought in the 6 inches between our own ears…by a change in OUR FOCUS or OUR MINDSET!

Clearly, there are differences between games and practice. Our team knows how to defend us much better than our opponents do. And on the flip side, our opponents are much more adept at putting their offensive and defensive strategies into place than we are – no matter how much we study their tendencies.

Even so, I will still argue that regardless of the aforementioned truths, skills are skills and processes are processes. If we have a PROCESS and practice it well, we put ourselves in a position to be successful.

This leads me to this week’s topic – HAVING A PLAN… seeing ourselves work the plan! Obviously, a PROCESS and a PLAN can be interchangeable or are seemingly the same. But let’s take PLAN out of the PROCESS for and look at it from a mindset perspective to help us find success.

The PLAN I want to focus on is a MENTAL PLAN we use when things don’t go our way, even when we are working our PROCESS!

As you all can relate, I spent a ton of time flying around the country for games, recruiting, etc. as a coach. Every single time I got on the plane, I counted the number of rows between me and the Exit Row both in front and behind me.

Did I expect the plane to go down? NO! I know the statistics related to the probability of a plane crashing with me on it.

But…. just in case, I wanted to be able to find my way by counting and not by sight!

Did thinking of this potential problem keep me from getting on the plane and enjoying my flight while cleaning out my inbox, studying a scouting report or laying out my weekend recruiting plan?

Again, NO!

It merely had me prepared – just in case things didn’t go my way.

It is the same for our players. Things are not always going to play out the way we drew them up as we experience in almost every game! SO MANY things can happen that throw us off of our game and we prepare for those with physical plans.

We don’t, however, spend much time working on our MENTAL “everything is hitting the fan” PLAN!

To be ready…before the chaos settles in…we need to foreshadow what MIGHT HAPPEN and create and practice a plan that will help us in our times of turmoil.

This is not being a pessimist. It is being prepared!

I am pretty certain that counting rows as we are taking a statistically unlikely - not-so-soft landing would not have happened, nor would I have been thinking straight enough to develop a plan in the midst of turmoil!

This is true for in-game crashes as well! Once stress enters the picture, our thinking brains go haywire and our emotions take over – IF WE DON’T HAVE A PLAN!

Researchers call the mental exercise of planning for an obstacle MATERIALIZING. The idea, according to Dr. Emily Balcetis at NYU, is “to take something that is abstract and make it tangible, immediate and mentally visible.”

If we practice creating a concrete, visual image for ourselves overcoming the obstacle,

mistake or negative scenario, we can avoid some of the emotional mistakes that creep up on us in times of trouble and we can get back on track more effectively than if we just acknowledge the fact that something undesirable may happen.

Having a PLAN to get back on the horse when we fall off…and practicing for it…can help us keep our focus on what we know and trust…and quickly get back to POUNDING THE PROCESS, even when things go south!

Using our mind’s eye to help us prepare, taking the time to acknowledge that obstacle exist and visualize them as negative situations that we overcome will help give us confidence that we can do just that when they raise their ugly head!

Mental preparation is not all about “thinking good thoughts.” Sometimes we need to see the bad and figure out how to overcome it before it happens!

So count those rows….and see yourself overcoming obstacles and other bad stuff that may come our way!

Have a wonderful week!


P.S. In and out of quarantine or need a positive activity to change things up since your season has been altered or cut short? Schedule a session with me to talk about growing our mental game, no matter what the circumstance!

P.S.S. Don't forget to check out the information I shared with Dr. Joanna Lane of the NFCA on "The Dirt" Podcast. We covered a ton of mental prep topics and had a blast! Listen HERE

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946



Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9

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