Spencer Wood, President of Icebox Athlete and a premier leader in the field of mental skills and toughness training, shared his expertise with BCA members at our 2009 National Convention in Indianapolis. Focusing on what he refers to as the 4 Cs of athletic excellence, Wood offered professional insight to coaches looking to build their understanding of mental skills training and provide student-athletes with a competitive advantage in their athletic and general life skills development.
Wood began by defining mental toughness as a confluence of composure, confidence, concentration and commitment. In providing this framework, he then discussed the human body’s natural reaction to stress and how physiological symptoms such as an increased heart rate, shallow breathing and muscular tension can be overcome through the development of mental routines. Wood stressed that the mental toughness skills he teaches elite athletes is just as applicable to all student-athletes at all levels and in various facets of life. While he acknowledged that in preparing for a big game, important exam or professional interview, mental toughness alone does not guarantee success, Wood emphasized that a lack of mental toughness is certain to ensure negative outcomes.
Delving deeper into his presentation, Wood gave BCA coaches some practical, readily applicable techniques to enhance their own student-athletes’ mental toughness development and positively affect their career trajectories. These included simple self-assessment procedures that place accountability on student-athletes and identify positive and negative trends in regard to commitment and performance consistency. Also discussed were methods to create an overwhelmingly positive team culture and the perfect reaction to mistakes and adversity. Finally, Wood introduced goal-setting and visualization exercises that enforce positive outcomes and develop increased confidence, as well as mental routines and mental scripts that lead to heightened awareness and composure in the heat of competition.