Monday, 29 February 2016
Mental Toughness

How do we get pumped up, motivated, or prepared to compete? You have to be ready, focused, and mentally hungry if you want to give yourself the best chance to come out on top of any kind of competition.

Sport psychologists deal and discuss so many issues with their clients. Whether it is something related to concentration, an issue with performance anxiety, excessive nervousness before competition, or how to deal with demanding coaches or teammates, there is always a commonality with the issue of being mentally strong enough to weather the storm.

Mental toughness relates to your ability to handle adversity, to perform when the pressure is on and to be so focused that you are able to block out all negativity and adversity you may face in the heat of competition.

Mental toughness does not develop from fear. I believe it develops from one's ability to understand their own personal motivations to succeed. "Mentally tough" athletes usually are the ones who don't flinch when the pressure is on. They live and feed off being the anchor of the last relay that has to win in order for the team to win the meet. They look forward to coming up with the bases loaded and their team down by three runs in the bottom of the ninth. They want to have the ball in their hands with five seconds left and their team down by two. 

Mentally tough athletes aren't born. Anyone can learn to develop mental strengths through experience. Failures are inevitable in athletic competition. Failures are inevitable in life. Failure is quite possibly one of the few things you can count on. They are not situations to be afraid of, but rather situations that can make us stronger and in turn, more successful. By understanding this, you should be hungry to step up and accept a challenge. If you fail, it will only be a lesson. It will not kill you. Just imagine the possibilities if you consistently wanted to take on challenges to see if you can beat them, rather than have them beat you.

It is a choice. It is an attitude; a mindset. It is the way competitive athletes should act and think. Athletes are tough. Have you ever heard of anyone performing extraordinarily well consistently and being mentally weak? Absolutely not.

The only way to achieve success is to understand failure. Muhammad Ali said it best, "Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."

Posted on 02/29/2016 10:30 AM by Abbi Tuohy
Friday, 26 February 2016
Parents as the Sport Psych Coach: What's Your Role?

A somewhat hidden area to improve an athlete's performance is mental training. Every athlete who is committed to a sport wants to get better and become a champion. Looking at professional and elite athletes, many times you can find a connection to their success and sport psychology. Athletes at the college and professional levels have access to mental training coaches to help them cope with pressure, stress, improve confidence and focus, and much, much more. So what can you do as a parent, without a mental training background, to help teach your athlete how to have a championship mindset and strong mental toughness?

Parents can be proactive in explaining the mental aspects of their child's sport. Don't wait until your child has a specific psychological barrier or issue in their game. Give examples of when mental training can come into play: a basketball player bouncing back after missing free throws, staying focused when fans are cheering or the crowd is heckling, keeping composure when the pressure is high, staying motivated during days when you're not at your best. There are so many places you can show your athlete sport psychology skills whether through hypothetical situations, real-time plays during a siblings sport or at a live sporting event, and even in the media coverage of professional events on TV. Examples are everywhere.

Many athletes don't realize how every situation can be a possible resource to developing their mental skills. Show your child how you handle barriers and obstacles. And then bonus, talk it over with them after it happens. Don't assume they are picking up on how you used a skill to readjust your attitude or motivation. Driving in Nashville during rush hours may alone give you ample opportunity to show how to keep your composure when things out of your control affect you.

The best way for athletes to buy into mental training is when they actually experience its power firsthand. When a challenge arises for your child that gives them an opportunity to be frustrated, point out how they are being tested. Their determination, perseverance, patience, and even their will to win are all being tested. In those moments, how can they help themselves succeed? What can they let go of that is out of their control? What aspect makes it the most challenging? Once they determine a game plan, ask them what strategies worked and how can they use this knowledge of themselves in the future to deal with similar issues? This reflection can't just happen once. Learning these skills takes time. Keep in mind, your son or daughter may lack some understanding at your questioning during times of high-stress. Wait until you can really have the conversation. If you teach your athlete how to handle obstacles, mistakes, setbacks, etc., imagine how well equipped they'll be in the future in college, in their career, in the un-forgiving real world? They will have a better shot at coming up with strategies in advance for stressful situations. They will be able to handle anything thrown their way.

Rather than getting frustrated or worried after setbacks, mentally tough athletes are able to grind it out, finish strong, and perform with confidence. They are able to cope with distractions and focus on successfully executing each play. Physical talent does not guarantee success. Any elite athlete will agree. It's important to introduce your athlete to sport psychology and show them the benefits of having a strong mental game. Remind them that they are not dysfunctional or broken if they decide to work on their mental skills. They're smart to take advantage of every resource to get a one-up on the competition.

By instilling confidence, composure, focus, consistency, and mental toughness, athletes are able to take their game to the next level. Contact Coach Abbi if your athlete wants a complimentary session to get one-on-one training to start recognizing their mental weaknesses and how to gain the mental edge needed to break through those barriers that limit their performance.

Posted on 02/26/2016 10:00 AM by Abbi Tuohy
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Hall of Fame Speech

Two years ago, I was inducted into my high school's athetic Hall of Fame.  I was allowed an opportunity to speak to current high school students during a varsity boys basketball game. Here is a section of the speech I am sharing as I have had requests to hear what I spoke about at the event. Enjoy! 

This moment is a little different and creates a unique opportunity, an opportunity to share critical life principles. People often ask me how does a small town kid, from Lima Ohio earn a scholarship to a Division I university? How'd I know what to do to get where a got? I want all you young people to listen to my answer. It's called knowing what you're good at, how hard you're willing to work for it, and being consistent. Three traits that translate in any generation and any job setting.

Being able to find something you are passionate about as well as actually naturally good at is not the easiest thing to accomplish. As a high school student, you need to experience the most you can from wherever you can. Don't define yourself just yet by one sport, or one hobby, or one person's opinion; keep trying out new things and different experiences. You might surprise yourself at what you are really, really good at doing. Never let others define what you're good at, you define yourself.

I've also had people say they wish someone had told them how hard they needed to work to achieve their goals. Well no one told me and no one will ever tell you. The only person that can answer that question is you. Are you truly working hard, giving something everything you have, are you taking advantage of every resource and person available to you to make you better? You should consistently be in competition with yourself.

And lastly, the most important principle is consistency. Consistency shows value. Consistency is necessary for trust, durability, and longevity. You have to show up every week no matter how difficult the game or life might be.  For me, I didn't just show consistency, but I did everything in my power to be the best that I possibly could. Over time, being consistent at taking advantage of all your resources and consistently being at your highest level, you will reach your goals and you will be highly recruitable in almost any arena in life.

There is a reason they call it chasing your dreams and not walking after them. Don't hope someone gives you an opportunity, create one for yourself.

Posted on 02/23/2016 8:30 AM by Abbi Tuohy
Monday, 22 February 2016
The ABSolute Truth

Welcome to The ABSolute Truth!

I will be utilizing The ABSolute Truth as my way to keep you in the loop on everything we are doing! I will use this blog as a platform to share speeches, messages about mental training and overall, life tips, thoughts and happenings. When I began this venture in Nashville three years ago, re-creating a business idea I launched in 2009 while working in the athletic department at the University of Pittsburgh, it was an exciting time in my life. Since 2013, ABSolute Coaching has had consistent growth. It has been an amazing ride and I am excited to start sharing more through this blog. 

What had really re-ignited my passion for wanting to start ABSolute Coaching in Nashville was when I had been in a slump professionally. I was working in an environment I was never going to be accustomed to and I realized I had everything I wanted in the different areas of my life that I value. Every area, but my job. I hated it. Usually it doesn't take me long to get rid of something that's not working' in my life, but I was comfortable. I needed a jolt to push me out of my comfort zone. Luckily, I was blessed with a rare gift.. Time. Through some unusual life circumstances, I was given time to realize my vision of what I wanted to do professionally. Although completely terrified at first of taking such a huge risk starting my own business, I knew it was a sign. Everything aligned showing me that I had to take the risk. I had to take some of my own advice I've been giving students and athletes for 10+ years.. The start is what stops most people and if you don't try for everything you want, in every area of your life, you'll never be living to your fullest. You will always feel a lacking. I also had to work on trusting myself and I realized, if I was going to bet on anything, I'd bet on myself. Anything I have truly set my mind to, I have been able to achieve. Why not this? Why not now?

I look forward to sharing my adventures and hopefully will gain your support through Facebook, Twitter, and of course, this blog!

Game on friends!

Posted on 02/22/2016 12:00 PM by Abbi Tuohy
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