When working in the field of performance psychology, the goal is always to help clients find an edge that can improve outcomes. One of the best methods to identify potential competitive edges for athletes is to closely look at what the best and most successful athletes are doing, and then try to replicate their behaviors. It is important to note that although, yes, the most successful players may owe a great deal of that success to talent, they also demonstrate strong behavioral tendencies to fully realize their talent.
Once an athlete starts to get paid, they need to change from a mindset of ‘just work hard and everything will take care of itself’, to the mindset of managing you and your ‘business’. As a professional athlete, you now need to take control of your ‘business’.
A mixed martial arts fight is decided before the octagon door closes. The fighter whose will to win is stronger will be the victor. Having a clear and focused mind is imperative in MMA, which is why many UFC fighters prepare with meditation.
Besides being a player, I’ve been involved in athlete development probably my whole life in a variety of different ways. First, it was as a coach. I was an assistant coach for my brother's peewee hockey team. I then by happenstance ended up creating development camps for a Tier II Jr. A hockey team (how can you ever forget the Victoria Salsa?). From there, I was given the opportunity to coach Division I hockey at Quinnipiac University, which was an awesome experience working with great people. I even had the chance to briefly scout professionally for the Vancouver Canucks, which was a fascinating experience and provided me with a different perspective even though I was about as far from making any decisions as you could possibly be.
Over my many years of working closely with Athletes, Executives and Business Owners, I have observed that everything ‘happens through a person’. Your network, or as we will now call it, social capital is the key to creating opportunity. Opportunity to engage in fulfilling activities and generating a sustainable income during, and well after your athletic career is over.
Over the course of my athlete transition practice, I have come across a number of athletes who are considering re-entering their sport in a coaching role. On the surface, this appears to be a great idea: to parlay a lifetime of experience and skills into a new career developing those skills in others. However, connecting those dots may not be a simple, easy, or natural as it appears. In the process of trying to develop good athletes, the development of good coaches may often get overlooked.