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The Psychology Of Pushing Your Team

    At the core of coaching is getting more out of athletes than the athletes themselves think is possible. As you know, this is so much more than physical training and X’s and O’s. The psychological component of elite growth in performance for individuals and teams is equally, if not more, important.

    Turn Blockers Into Strengths

    There are three psychological blockers that separate elite performers from non-elite performers: Emotions, Pain, and Uncertainty.


    Emotions ultimately dictate how someone is going to perform at their highest level. Once control of emotions has broken down the ability for an athlete, or team, to enter a flow state becomes all but impossible.

    Elite Performers & Teams: Leverage emotions to incite performance. e.g. anger can be fuel when harnessed correctly.

    Non-Elite Performers & Teams: Allow their emotions to control them leading to streaky performances.

    How To Lead: Leverage patience and curious empathy. More often than not there is something going on below the surface and you need to understand the full context when emotions break down.


    Pain is part of the game, in training and in competition. In this context we’re talking about exertion pain and not injury pain. Pushing through the discomfort of well planned training is how an athlete gets stronger and faster. Just like pushing your team through tough experiences makes your the entire squad stronger.

    Elite Performers: View pain as information to be acted upon, which engages the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain, when activated in intense situation, enables the ability to enter flow state.

    Non-Elite Performers: Disassociate from the pain and let their primitive brain shut them down. This leads to poor real-time decision making and almost always leads to frustration for the athlete, teammates, and coaches.

    How To Lead: Lean on your experience and compassion. You know your athletes and what they’re capable of so layer on some deep compassion to understand the pain of the moment and you will be able to guide them through it.


    “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

    Mike Tyson

    You simply cannot prepare for everything. You don’t have the time, resources, or a functional crystal ball.

    Elite Performers: Embrace uncertainty and are energized by improvising withing the guardrails of solid planning.

    Non-Elite Performers: Are timid in the face of uncertainty and default to the safety of the familiar.

    How To Lead: Quality data and analysis will increase your visibility to potential uncertainty. We’re not just talking about the stats you use for game planning but information about all aspects that effect outcomes including your own experience.

    Interested in learning how HeatCheck can help your program achieve your goals? Fill out the form on this page and we’ll be in touch ASAP.