California Distance Training

The Mental Coach
Relationships and mind games
Liam Clemons
Head Coach Boys’ Cross Country
Boys’ & Girls’ Distance
Trabuco Hills High School
A Strong start
• All starts with good communication skills
• LISTEN!!!!!
• Good communication leads to a less
stressful environment. Being able to
express needs, feelings, and opinions
will make my athletes feel more relaxed
and comfortable in a group setting. They
will go into races feeling like they have
had all of their questions answered.
Then, they focus better on the task at
The goal
• Obviously we want to win
• We can’t win if we are not prepared
• Communication is essential to preparation
• I have found that my teams perform best when they feel like they are well
prepared and can confidently set out to achieve their collective goal. The state
championship teams I had in 2006 and 2011 were very confident groups. They
felt like they were in control of a race no matter who they were racing. They
prepared to control the pace and tactics in practice every day. When they lined
up at the start of a race they were confident that they would execute their plan
and control the variables in that race. This outlook led to them achieving levels
of performance that exceeded their goals.
Trust is essential to good communication
How to gain an athlete's trust:
•Take a real interest in their lives
•Be Honest
•Be a chameleon
•Explain your workouts and philosophy
•Give good feedback
•Be consistent
What does service mean?
•All athletes, to some extent, want to perform for their coach
•Coaches should want to perform for their athletes
•Create a culture of service
I try to avoid using the word “my” when talking about the athletes I coach. I tell
them that they do not run for me... I coach for them. I try to convey a message
that we are at our best when we serve others. I want them to run in the service
of each other.
Mentorship, not friendship
•They can be your friend when they graduate college
•No Facebook friends
•Coaches are like older siblings in the least, but usually more like a
Honor that responsibility
•My personal mantras:
•Always be teaching
•Coach the athlete, not the sport
Now that you've got their attention...
Time to play mind games
Mind games = mental skills training and mental toughness
My goal is to toughen them up
Think like a Jedi and Talk like one too
Trick them into running fast
Mental toughness
•Start with visualization in a quiet environment
•Walk them through a race or the last mile
•Talk about the smells and sounds
•Use some distractions to test their focus level
•Keep them in the moment
After running hundreds of miles, a three-mile race does not sound as difficult.
Similarly, after learning to focus and imagine your race with a high level of
control and vividness, the athlete is better prepared to focus on race day.
The biggest trick of all...
Teaching them how to calm down and gain self control under pressure.
•Centering exercises
Key is to learn that you can only control yourself. Don't worry about what you
can't control.
Connecting mental and physical toughness
- Pain Threshold
What is it?
Extreme core work designed to push their pain tolerance level higher.
•Long planks
•Quarter downs
•Long leg lifts
•Cross Fit routines *
“Most of the time, the guy that wins isn't faster, he is just more stubborn”
– Bob King, Del Campo HS