Creating a Mental Skills Plan Part 1

Sometimes we can find ourselves in a place of wanting to change many aspects of ourselves and our behaviours. We often do much of the initial thinking for this change without a plan or system and can become overwhelmed and discouraged.

There are three things we can train. Our skills, our body and our mind. Often when I deliver workshops I ask the audience, ‘how many people actively train their skills through some form of practice; reading, learning from mentors or teachers?’ 99% put their hands up. I ask a similar question: ‘How many people train their body?’ Roughly 60%. Then I ask: ‘How many people train their minds? A few hands go up. These responses never surprise me.

Why are mental skills the least trained?

Is it because we can’t see/hear the mental side of what we do in the same way as we can our skills or body? We don’t know where to start to work on it? We hope it will be better next time, so this element is left to chance..?

It’s not surprising, as much of what is taught and assessed in our education system, pre and post higher education is skills-based teaching. We are congratulated and celebrated for how well we can show these skills to the world. The flaw in this type of training is that we put very little emphasise in what is required mentally to consistently train these skills. Even less time is spent on the large mental load of performing, and what happens when things don’t quite go to plan on that journey.

If your training so far has not included consistently training the mind, you could be missing a very important part of the trainable triangle to become your best-      Each of us will have our challenge points when it comes to the mental side of what we do. So to begin, we need to acknowledge where these challenge points are.

Some questions to answer for yourself:

  • What aspects of my mental preparation could be heightened? Focus, management of emotions (e.g. anxiety), planning and preparation, motivation, resiliency/bouncing back from disappointment, confidence, to name a few.
  • In what way do they affect what I do? Try and be as specific as possible.
  • Do you recognise these issues during practice/rehearsal/training, during performance or both?

Make a note of your answers, we’ll use them in the next stage- ‘Creating a mental skills plan, part 2.’

Thanks for reading, and feel free to let me know how you get on. If you need further personalised support with this work contact me on

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