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Coaching the Mind - PART 1: The Next Step for Personal Training

by Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc(Hons)

INTRODUCTION
Personal trainers are often called on to work with elite sportspeople to provide personalised fitness and strength programs for improving their performance, but with a little more thought and preparation your PT business can offer much more to the elite sportsperson. Specifically, when you recognise that most sportspeople - even at the highest level - are only training half of themselves, it's easy to understand how you can offer a more complete, holistic training service.

Consider the following case studies - what would you do in each of them?

PT Case Study # 1
A young golf professional comes to you for help in designing a fitness program for him. He's motivated and a pleasure to train, and within six months has improved to the point where he has been in contention in major tournaments on a number of occasions ..... however, he consistently folds under the pressure and is now walking and talking like someone who's lost their confidence. What would you do at your next session?

PT Case Study # 2
The mother of an elite tennis player asks you for some assistance with a diet and exercise program for her 15 year old daughter (currently ranked in the top five for her age). After working with her for a month, you discover she suffers from excessive pre-match anxiety - to the point of being physically ill, but she refuses to see a "shrink", and doesn't see it as a problem. What do you do at your next session with her?
PT Case Study # 3
The coach of a footy team that has just scraped into the finals has asked you to provide a training program to get the team fit and ready for their first match. Despite being fit and strong, you hear the players talking negatively about their chances against the more favoured team. What would you do?

Scenarios such as those above are common. Personal trainers, coaches and teachers continually face issues outside of their traditional training. Few would feel competent to handle any of the above situations with confidence, however with a little extra training, there is a lot you can do. In fact, many people see the future of personal training lies in expanding the range of skills and services, and offering your clients a more complete service. A service that isn't just fitness training, or even 'life' coaching, but encompasses much more; a service that incorporates personal performance coaching - coaching the mind and emotions of your clients.

Imagine if you had the skills to help that young golfer overcome his self doubt, and he went on to win the Australian Open or the US Masters? What if you helped the coach of a top footy team prepare his players mentally and emotionally as well as just physically - so they ran out on the field feeling confident and in the peak performance zone. Imagine taking an upcoming young tennis player and sharing their journey from local club competition to satellite events through to a Grand Slam final appearance!

What if you offered some assistance with mental and emotional preparation for your elite athletes, as well as the strength and aerobic fitness work? Athletes are not just bodies are they?

Thoughts and feelings affect sports performances - even more so than physical factors .... yet, how much do you know about training this half of your clients? But then, why would an experienced PT such as yourself bother with the extra training and effort involved in a more complete service to your clients?

Is extra money a good enough incentive? Recognise that elite level sportspeople spend millions of dollars a year worldwide on sports related services in an attempt to gain that competitive edge over their rivals - and this is on the increase. Further, elite level sportspeople - particularly in golf, tennis and football - earn enough to pay handsomely for your services, and are willing to do so on a long term basis. How often have you had clients for a few sessions, then never hear from them again?

How about the prestige associated with working with the best athletes in the world? Does that turn it on for you?

The opportunity is here, now.

There is a huge market of elite level sportspeople needing this more complete personal performance coaching service. I believe it is the next logical step in the evolution of personal training.

Would working with clients who genuinely want to improve do it for you? Have you ever had the experience of 'backsliding' clients? Or clients who 'say' that they want to lose weight, or get fitter, but keep missing appointments, or who lose their motivation? Elite athletes are professional sportspeople - playing sport is their livelihood, their business, so they are more committed and motivated. They are a joy to work with - particularly if you're used to working a lot with 'average' 9 to 5'ers.
So have I excited you about a huge potential new client base, and a new way of working with your old client base yet? Stay with me, because the next question you're going to ask is "How can I do it?"

Which is of course, brings us to the next step - how to understand the unique needs of elite sportspeople, and how to develop your skills in five key areas of this new approach to Personal Training.

How to deal with the Mind Matters of Personal Training. I will be discussing these five key areas and how to apply them in the next article. Stay tuned!

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : jh@sportsmind.com.au
website : www.sportsmind.com.au

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