Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly do you do as a mental skills coach?
I help my athlete clients develop "winner's mind," the ability to maintain focus, composure, confidence and productive thought throughout their performance, and particularly while playing under stressful or adverse conditions.

What are some of the typical challenges your athlete clients face?
Virtually all mental challenges in sport consist of self-defeating mind states: fear of failure, fear of injury or re-injury, self-consciousness, performance anxiety, distractedness, directionlessness or low motivation, perfectionism, anger, frustration, stress, lack of confidence, self-limiting beliefs, self-imposed pressure, burnout, relived trauma, and more.

What techniques do you use to address the mental challenges of sports?
I teach a variety of mental skills: goal setting, visualization, mental rehearsal, the use of centering phrases or physical actions, and above all, mindfulness. The ability to stay present in the moment is by far the most powerful mental skill an athlete can possess.

What are your coaching sessions like?
In the first session, we focus on your goals and challenges: why you play, what you like about your game, what it means to you, whom you're playing for, what's getting in the way of playing the way you want, what your game would look like if those problems didn't exist.

I'll ask what solutions you've tried in the past, and which were useful and which were not. I may invite you to write a statement of what you really want to accomplish, or how you'd like other people to describe the way you approached your game.

Out of your goals and values, we then develop an action plan that will serve as the foundation of all future sessions and e-mails. Everything we do, whether it's working on visualization or mental rehearsal, developing a centering phrase or action, or practicing mindfulness, is ultimately geared toward helping you stay true to your objectives.

What types of athletes benefit most from mental skills coaching?
In my experience, the clients that benefit most from this type of coaching all share certain attributes.
  • They love a challenge.
  • They aspire to achieve their personal best.
  • They are driven by identifiable personal values.
  • They see themselves as their toughest competitor.
  • They possess a strong work ethic and are willing to practice.
  • They are motivated more toward internal satisfaction than outward gain.
  • They respect their competitors even if they want to beat them.
  • They hate to lose but understand being bested.
  • They do not make excuses for themselves.
Of all these attributes, personal responsibility–the willingness to be fully and solely accountable for one's performance–is probably the most important, and for a very simple reason. You can only change that which you know to be under your own control.

How does your mental skills coaching differ from that of others?
It differs in two ways. First, I avoid certain techniques such as "self talk," "acting as if," reciting affirmations, or dissecting past mistakes, because they don't work. If anything, they reinforce a sense of inadequacy. Second, I emphasize mindfulness, or the ability to stay present in the moment, over all else. The tendency to relive the past or project into the future is the common denominator of every mental challenge in sport.

Do you work with clients in person or can you work remotely?
I work with some clients in person, and use GoToMeeting, FaceTime and the telephone to work with others. Between sessions, I invite clients to e-mail me with any questions they may have. I've noticed over the years that working locally or remotely doesn't make much difference. The progress depends more on how well clients utilize what we cover.

What types of results can I expect?
If you embrace the process and practice the principles of mental skills coaching, there are a number of gains you can hope to achieve:
  • You will be far less burdened by fear, anxiety, worry or distraction.
  • You will perform more skillfully, especially under stress or adverse conditions.
  • You will experience a greater sense of personal confidence and self-esteem.
  • You will compete, against yourself or others, with greater enthusiasm.
  • You will enjoy your sport more than you perhaps thought possible.

How long does it take to get results?
The speed of your progress naturally depends on your goals, your motivation, and how often you practice what you're learning. Most of my clients come for coaching during their playing season, usually attending sessions two to four times a month, then slowing things down during the off season. Down the road, about a third or more will come back to address newer, more challenging goals they've set a result of their playing at a higher level.

What does mental skills coaching cost?
It varies from coach to coach, but hourly fees are generally commensurate with those of psychotherapists or highly trained life coaches.
The Winner's Mind by Lynda Lahman, MA
Email Contact | Phone: (425) 761-7715

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