I saw this posted in a coaching group.
We play really well for one set, then we start focusing on mistakes, and it’s all downhill from there.
Really, I should say I’ve seen variations of this idea many, many times. The question that has to immediately come in reaction is “Are you training to deal with errors?” If you aren’t specifically putting player in these kinds of situations in training, and helping them develop the skills to work through them, why would we expect them to be able to work through them in a match?
You might call it mental toughness training. Or maybe you call it mental skills development. Perhaps you like emotional resiliance, or some other term. Regardless, it’s a skill like anything else. To be good at it you have to learn the techniques and practice them.
I’ll leave discussion of mental techniques to the pros (like Dan Abrahams and Dan Mickle). I can, however, speak to creating the right scenarios in practice to work on them. In fact, I already have. Give the How do we make them uncomfortable? post a read. In the first section I discuss the idea of putting players in frustrating situations where they struggle to have high levels of success.
There’s another major factor here. That’s your culture and gym environment around errors. If you encourage players to take chances and don’t harp on their mistakes, it’s a lot easier for them to let things go and move on to the next play. If not, players will fixate on them.
Beware of unintentional contradictions, however. This is something I see quite often where a coach talks about being OK with positive errors, but then acts the opposite way, providing very mixed messaging. For example, I once saw a coach encourage aggressive attacking in practice, but then adopt a “just get it in” approach at times in matches. Definitely contradicting messages there.
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