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Mental performance coaching in schools empowers students to master emotional regulation and fortify their mental well-being

4 ways to implement mental performance coaching in schools


Mental performance coaching in schools empowers students to master emotional regulation and fortify their mental well-being

Key points:

Picture this: Empowered educators are equipped with the insights and strategies of mental performance coaching in schools. They possess the transformative ability–well-established in athletics but yet to be fully realized in the classroom–to help students meet the challenges of life with greater resilience, self-esteem, and focus. Teachers, school coaches, and education leaders are catalysts that propel students towards this emotional and mental strength, using approaches that have benefited thousands of athletes at all levels.

To the cynic, “mental performance coaching” may sound like a passing trend. But in reality, mental performance coaching in schools holds immense value as an integral component of developing student well-being.

By embracing it, educators can offer crucial support to students in honing and enhancing their emotional and mental capabilities. And in doing so, we send a powerful message to our students that their mental and emotional well-being is as important as their academic or athletic success.

What is mental performance coaching?

In sports, mental performance coaching is used to foster an athlete’s confidence, resilience, and focus. Coaches specializing in mental performance help their athletes identify personalized objectives and craft resources and exercises to cultivate a productive mindset. But the impact of mental performance coaching extends beyond the gym or field. In fact, the data is clear–adding such skills to a young person’s mental and emotional toolbox sets them up for success.

Mental performance coaching transcends athletic performance, empowering students to master emotional regulation and fortify their mental well-being. Research shows that two of the most important tools for building student success are self-esteem and the ability to tune out distractions. A recent study found that high self-esteem is linked to higher performance at school and work, stronger relationships, and improved physical and mental health. These aren’t simply short-term benefits; the study found that these positive outcomes endure through different life stages.

Similarly, whether students face the heat of a game or are trying to navigate the ups and downs of everyday life, they must be able to tune out the noise–the noise of competition, uncertainty, pressure, and outside expectations–and feel confident of their place in the world. Instead of adding to the distractions of sport, school, or social media, mental performance coaching in schools nurtures self-compassion and guides students to see competition as a chance to showcase their growth and abilities. In doing so, young people can create a healthier relationship with themselves and the world, unlocking their potential for personal development and authentic connection.

4 mental coaching strategies to empower students 

There are a number of mental performance coaching strategies that coaches consistently use with athletes to build positive mindsets. Parents, educators, and coaches can adapt them to support students in their emotional growth, both in and out of the classroom. 

  • Share the concept of “yet.” When students say they can’t do something, prompt them to add the word “yet” at the end. This simple word helps students view roadblocks as an opportunity for continuous development. Athletes can use this to drive their motivation onwards when they feel stuck. 
  • Mentally rehearse challenging tasks. Having students mentally walk through a completed project before beginning allows them to see their desired outcome clearly, and even more importantly, visualize the steps needed to get there. Mental rehearsal can even help to identify possible obstacles before they occur, increasing the likelihood of attaining success. Athletes can use this to experiment and explore possibilities for their performance or to practice a specific skill or movement. 
  • Set intentions. When students take a few moments at the start of their school day to quietly set an intention for the day, they learn focus and commitment. How would they like to go about their tasks, and what behaviors might help them? Athletes can use this tool for clarity on what they want to think and feel going into practice or competitions.
  • Tap into quick mindfulness exercises. Throughout the day, students can take a pause to focus on their breath, quiet their mind and tune in with themselves physically and mentally. Repeated practice of these quick pauses will improve their attention span. Athletes often use the moments, before, after, and even during their performances to engage in mindfulness. 

Mental performance coaching in schools focuses on the long game

Mental performance coaching in schools requires consistent reinforcement, and these strategies should be integrated throughout the academic curriculum and teaching practices. By doing so, we empower young people to shift the spotlight from social comparison to self-compassion, from pressure to opportunity, and from the outcome to the development journey. Together, we can offer a new perspective on what it means to be victorious.

Related:
Why schools are a natural setting for mental health support
3 ways to leverage tech for better student mental health

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