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Mental Performance

How to incorporate mental performance training into your team training sessions?

Leon Abravanel
April 21, 2017

Accomplish technical, tactical, and mental into all of your training sessions.

It is difficult as a coach to accomplish everything you need to accomplish during the week to prepare for game day.  Typically the training pillar we take out first is mental.  That is because we often think it will take away from all of the technical/tactical we have to do.

We have figured out a way to incorporate all facets of the game in training sessions.  With a little prep, you train the mental game whenever you want during training sessions.  Use the instructions below as a guide to elevate your team’s collective performance.

Prep Work

Creating a team trigger word

A trigger word is something will use anytime you need your team to collectively focus and perform optimally.  Your team can say it amongst themselves, or you can use it anytime you need; regardless, the use of the word will trigger a trained mental and physical response from your collective team. It takes ample training, but over time it will be automatic and fluid.

  1. Get your team together.
  2. Ask them to work together to find one word that represents the collective of the team
  3. Examples are: together, strong, calm, focused, team.
  4. Explain to them what this word will be used for.
  5. While still in a group, have your players close their eyes, then walk them mentally through an amazing team performance -- calm, together, strong, victorious.
  6. This can be uncomfortable for the coach as well as the players.  Force yourself and your team to fight through the uncomfort -- it will get better over time.
  7. Explain to them again, what your team trigger word will be used for -- to elevate the team’s collective performance.

During Training

Why, how & when to use your team’s trigger word during training


You can accomplish technical, tactical, physical and mental training in each session you run.  The trigger word will actually increase training performance and increase player retention due to the elevation of their focus.


Use your trigger before, during, and after training sessions.  Do not use the word too often though.  At first, ample explanation should accompany the word -- continue to explain until it starts to become automatic.  

Once the trigger automatically creates a response among your team, then no explanation is needed -- just use it responsibly to gain maximum effectiveness.  


  • Use sparingly and effectively.
  • Before performing (training & games)
  • When the focus or effort of your team drops, use your word turn it around.
  • At half time or after performing -- recap on the good and bad (this solidifies the training).
  • Always applaud your team when you say the trigger word and they respond properly.
  • Always constructively communicate with your team when you use the word and they do not respond properly.

In conclusion:

Now you can accomplish all of the facets of the game in each training session.  Do not be intimidated by this, because it is something that both coach and players become more comfortable with over time.  Remember, mental training is just like any other part of the game, you must practice it consistently to really benefit from it.  Repetition is the father of learning, so use this everyday to elevate your team’s collective performance.

Also, have your players/parents read “How does my child start training their mind?” so they can amplify their mental games individually, and in turn increase the effectiveness of your mental coaching.

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