AHCA – Paul Dennis Psychological Performance

Paul Dennis is the Player Development Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spoke about Psychological Performance and what it takes to perform at your best. He focused on affirmation vs doubt and how focus on failure results in failure. He advocated for spending time on mental training and working with your players to help them achieve their best performance. Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

– There are two games: the game vs your opponent and the game inside your own mind

– A busy mind = variable performance

– Confidence, coping with pressure and mental toughness are the most important traits of successful athletes

– “Always prepare for the moment, don’t wait for the moment to prepare” – George Armstrong

– “The separation is in the preparation” – Russell Wilson

– Gamer vs Victim Mindset: A victim has an outside-in approach, focus on what they can’t control; Gamer has inside-out approach, chooses to do what he can do, bring it every practice

– Emotions are contagious, we respond to each other’s feelings. The leader often sets the emotional tone for the group – leaders need to manage their feelings well

– It is important to take care of yourself as a leader – rested, physically fit, eating well. Stress depletes our willpower, diminishing our ability to control our emotions. The more you take care of yourself, the stronger your willpower will be.

– Playing to Win vs Playing Not to Lose: soccer players taking PK’s scored 92% of the time when scoring gave their team a chance to win but only 62% when missing created a threat of a loss. Playing to Win creates a challenge mindset, keep the foot on the gas and challenge players to rise to the occasion. When threatened (ex. losing), we program ourselves NOT to do something

– We want struggling players to “try harder” and think they’ll break out of it. Rather, we need them to “think less” – previous failures are entering their mind and they are focusing on what NOT to do, rather than challenging themselves

– Self-Talk is critical to performance: Instructional is beneficial for precision-oriented tasks, Motivational is beneficial for nerves and high pressure

– To affirm your decisions and direction, ask yourself: Am I doing…the right thing? at the right time? in the right way? for the right reasons?

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