By Matthew Caldaroni, Performance Mindset and Mental Resiliency Specialist
Most coaches underestimate the power of the “5 C’s”; not only are they simple to carry out, but they work very efficiently in regards to understanding your athlete, having your athlete work for themselves, and in turn having the athlete work for you.
These are what I call the 5 C’s; some of you may have variations of these, but they touch upon the importance of each of the 5 characteristics that I’ve found it takes to tap into the mindset of an athlete to take their training to the next level:
• Connection - this is one of, if not the most important characteristics to creating a high performance athlete. It’s astonishing to me that so many coaches don’t take the time to build a simple connection with their athletes before going onto the ice. Athletes will only work for you, and connect with you, if you’re vulnerable with them. They will only drop their ego and listen if you create a connection with them that’s real and consistent. This doesn’t have to be anything big; it’s as simple as taking the first 5 minutes of a training session to ask your athlete how it’s going and what’s new in life. Share a small laugh or funny moment that happened with you in the past week; show them you’re human and they’ll want to work for you. It’s so simple, but so overlooked
• Confidence - creating a confident athlete allows the athlete to get away from one of their biggest fears - making mistakes. The goal is to eliminate the fear so that you can push, challenge, and test every athlete with the most intensity across any situation. The ability to do this all stems from instilling confidence in the athlete. I’m not saying you always have to stamp a smiley face on the job that they do; you can still be hard on them. However, always make sure to follow up with a positive remark. Push their limits, allow them to struggle, but always instil confidence in their efforts. Skills can be learnt and constantly change throughout the career of an athlete, instead bank on work ethic and diligence. You can do this by installing confidence in them
• Character - creating an athlete that is not only a great athlete, but also a great person off the ice, is one that every professional team looks for. The goal is to create a cut throat, competitive on ice athlete that thrives off of competition, but also creating a positive individuals who can be a good person off the ice. It’s as simple as constantly reminding the athlete that they need to be able to debrief and disconnect from the sport when they leave the rink, but to remain respectful off the ice as well. Body language, positive interactions and communication are all little things that lead to big results
• Competence - creating an athlete that is aware of their environment and themselves is a key factor. Many athletes get into a situation where they feel all the external pressure and negativity that they cannot control and let it take over their game. They end up playing a game that they aren’t use to, or known for, and pull themselves away from their strengths to try and play a game that will hopefully impress their coach. The result is never positive; time and time again we see athletes get themselves into unexplainable slumps that they can’t get out of. However, in reality the slump is a result of simply trying too hard. By creating an athlete who understands their strengths, work-ons, and what they need to stick to in performances we can eliminate the “slump” situation and minimize the long term effects of it
• Creativity - this goes back to creating an athlete who knows mistakes are part of the game and that they can happen. The goal is to inspire creativity; there is not one athlete who became one of the best of the best by playing in fear of making mistakes. Athletes seem to think that they have to create big impacts in their practices to get big results, when in reality the idea is that they do a bunch of small things to create a bunch of small results that add to big results. The only way an athlete can do this is by knowing their coach has confidence in them, but more importantly by removing the idea of fear from their game. It’s as simple as letting the athlete know mistakes happen and they’re allowed to when you’re trying something new; I’ve found this to be a simple strategy that is highly effective, especially with high performance athletes