Five Game Changing Tips for Coaches from Sports Psychologist Dr. Amber Selking

Dr. Amber Selking

“Impactful leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” -John Maxwell.

Dr. Selking described that great leaders make a POSITIVE impact wherever they go with their influence.

So how does one become an influential leader? Let’s find out.

Awareness of Our Thoughts

We must be aware before we enhance. If I’m strolling through my day, unaware of my negative thoughts about myself or the athletes I coach, I can’t change them.

We all have intrusive thoughts that come in. But, how we navigate those thoughts comes into our brain. Is everything our mind tells us true? Most certainly not. We have to be the filters of our thoughts.

As humans, we have 70,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day! Once we become aware of our review patterns, we can adjust to improve our performance.

Once you become aware of your thoughts and how they influence your actions, you can begin to dialogue about how you can help your team become more aware of their thoughts.

Building Confidence in Your Team

As coaches, we have to help our team progress in their skills. The better at a skill, the more confident they get, instead of focusing on the outcome of skill like making a shot. We should focus on improving their shooting form, which is part of the process when making a shot.

We have to feed our athletes with SPECIFIC positive feedback. I am as guilty as anyone who gives vague positive feedback. “Oh, great shot *insert name*!” What about it was a great shot? Was it the form? Did they take the shot in rhythm? SPECIFIC positive feedback helps build confidence because our athletes know what they did right.

Empowering your athletes to lead their process will also help their confidence as leaders. So often, as coaches, we tell athletes what we need to work on. But how often do we ask or let our athletes guide their learning process? We need to ask questions like what did you do well? But what can you improve on? Then they can start becoming their coach when they aren’t around!

Mental Rehearsal

The main difference is visualization is only imagining what you see before a big game. But mental rehearsal is about including all five senses when preparing for a game.

Spend time at the end of your practices, or maybe even before a game, and have the kids lay down. Give them a specific scenario to rehearse. Perhaps they got a terrible call from the official; how will they react? Of course, there are the classic three seconds left on the clock, then what’re you going to do if you have the ball and you get double-teamed?

Again, the more specific the situation you can explain to them or even yourself, the better!

Our physical bodies only can go so far, shoot so many shots & run so many sprints. But our minds can give us the extra reps we need. This is a powerful tool in football because it’s such a physical sport you want to limit the number of reps you put in before a big game. But you can have your athletes imagine making 100 shots in their mind, feeling what it’s like to swish shot after shot.

Putting in the Reps

Like when we were athletes, we now have to put the time in as coaches, speakers, & writers to become incredible at our craft.

Dr. Selking shared a few amazing stories about Jesus & David in David & Goliath. I’m not religious, but Jesus didn’t begin practicing his ministry until he was 30 years old, and he’s arguably one of the most influential people in history.

David was seen slinging rocks for years at lions before he took on Goliath.

We must put countless reps in during the quiet years before we can make it to the big stage. So keep going; the world needs you to keep doing the work and impacting the next generation!

Watch or Listen to the Full Podcast w/Dr. Selking:




Link to the Mental Game by Dr. Selking on Amazon

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash



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Coach Furtado

Coach Furtado

Writing about leadership, teamwork, and human development through the lens of sports.