Competitive mindset training has been a very important piece of the high level training plan for several decades. Meditation, envisioning, positive self assurance and reinforcement have been staple at most large programs for some time. Great coaches and institutions have understood and implemented this part of training for a long time. Marketing and selling it to the mainstream is something quite new. The value of mental training is undeniable, but effectiveness of mental training has its own time and place.
During the warm up and cool down phases of physical training sessions the opportunity exists for positive affirmations about the self. This can be conducted as a group, or individually as the warm up exercises take place. Active coaching, creating the environment for wrestlers to feel positive about their learning and vocalizing successes also achieve a similar result.
As a coach, I have found the optimum physical practice time that is either technically driven or physically (cardio) challenging offers as much mental strengthening opportunities as possible without getting to the point of diminishing returns.
- Let me explain, wrestlers are very mentally challenged when presented with new technique, learning concepts of advanced physics with their minds and then applying these concepts with their bodies is incrediblebly difficult and mentally taxing.
- Mental fortitude and controlling the mechanism to push the body past known limits during an intense cardio training session is also extremely taxing both physically and mentally.
- To continue training the mind with extensive formalized pamphlets, worksheets and booklets after exhausting the body is the point of diminishing returns and I have seen athletes greatly under value this portion of training.
I propose doing worksheets, meditation, extensive mental training during dedicated 20 minute sessions, gradually moving up to 35-40 minutes of mental strengthening activities. Training for combat sports can exist in several training environments that differ greatly from a mat room. The weight room, pool, mountain peak, etc. I recommend getting the most value from each independent training environment including the classroom, egg chair or yoga studio; but resist the urge to combine two or more unique training systems. Fatigue and the point of diminishing returns is real. Smart, measurable and systematic training is always more important than long, watered-down training that tries to accomplish too much including mental preparation.