There is a need for digitalized access to mental training in sports

Digitization within mental training has a great protentional for optimizing performances.
Af: Carsten Oldengaard
Mental coach

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I have had many meetings with athletes about certain evaluations and development aspects, and they all end up concerning last week’s practice or match, even though the intention was to follow up on the developmental progress of the athlete in the long run. I have the experience that several athletes wanted to quit their career paths entirely because of one bad training session. I witness athletes having burnouts, which could have been discovered long before happening. Many of these episodes are results of mental patterns, which are not discovered or adjusted – simply because we are not able to focus on the bigger perspective. Data and MASS can help change this.

However, it is not unusual for athletes to get caught up in the situation and the violence of their emotions. Ups and downs are premises in every life of an athlete. Deviations will occur. Unfortunately, these deviations are exhibited and magnified to a greater degree within the field of sports compared to a 9-5 job. If you perform badly once or twice, these deviations can easily be the new headline, and thus a single mistake can be amplified, magnified, or even highlighted more than it justifies. It could happen because of one bad and irrelevant performance – or maybe one bad hit or even just during a bad day.

We often give disproportionately much attention to the voice inside of our heads. The voice that says we are not good enough. This is an unconscious act, which we are not always aware of but should investigate. Especially the data around this area and where the negative thoughts come from. I think we should take an extra look at this aspect.

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Optimization of data within the mental aspect

I wonder why we in this data driven world not yet have systematized mental training. For a long time, we have watched sports becoming deeply dependent on data to optimize the game – both on an individual level and as a team, tactically and physically. However, I have experienced how the use of data to lift mental training has failed to happen. Sports clubs are quick to just provide the athletes and coaches with lectures about mental training to extend their knowledge. But if we want to provide athletes and coaches with skills in the field of mental training in practice, it does not work to just talk about it – we must work with it instead. A coach will never get anything out of an athlete who knows exactly how the game is to be played but is unable to do so. On the other hand, it would be optimal if that knowledge was converted into training tasks and embedded in the body as an automated process, that occurs when a match is played. It is the same principle within mental training and is characterized by incorporating skills and not just knowledge.

Good mental training incorporates skills and not just knowledge

Carsten Oldengaard

Therefore, I have needed to use digitization to implement mental tools and mental training, which affect the athlete’s performance. An approach that concerns how mental training actually can be anchored into an organization as a solid and not least an important tool for achieving top performances.

The new app will assist the mental training

I have developed a mental training assistant tool, MASS, to assist the athlete and coaches during their daily work with mental training. Not only does MASS show graphs over the athlete’s mental self-estimation but also gives feedback based on the typed-in data from the app. Feedback developed in the light of my 14 years of experience with mental training. The feedback also tells you how to improve your training.

The new app has an individual approach to the athlete’s mental training. It coaches the athlete with mental tools such as focus, inner dialogues, and process goals. Before every training, the athlete, together with MASS, starts a mental assignment and is presented with two questions: How is your mental state of readiness? And what about your physique? These two questions often reveal, if the athlete drags things into a workout session, which over time could lead to dissatisfaction. After the training session, the athlete will once again, based on numbers, type in how well the mental assignment worked out aligned with the actual performance. After just 14 days, MASS presents patterns that create the foundation of more effective mental training.

MASS assists the athlete with mental training within:

    1. The ability to keep focus and to have focus on the right things
    2. The ability to have more inner WILL-dialogues instead of NO-dialogues
    3. Process goal and working with processes as a way towards the end goals

MASS is a gamechanger for coaches

MASS is a tool for the benefit of the athlete, who wants to sharpen and strengthen the thought processes so that the athlete has the opportunity to perform better in difficult situations.

Good processes pave the way for good results

Carsten Oldengaard
The app, MASS, can show you graphs on how you work with your process goals.

MASS will be a gamechanger for coaches since it is an assistant and is always available to help assist the athlete mentally. Because of the daily data collection, MASS can create a good starting point to help coaches get a quick and qualified view of the athlete’s mental training, patterns, and deviations. Again, this will lead to a good starting point when having qualified conversations about the development and mental processes of the athlete. Data collection is better and bigger over time. Therefore, MASS is an easy way for the athletes and coaches to keep an eye on the overall mental development and not get caught up in isolated deviations. In connection with this, coaches will receive specific mental tools and methods, which can be used during matches and everyday training sessions.

“MASS’s training setup provides structured and continuous access to my mental training, and at the same time gives me feedback so I can follow my mental development. I also think it is amazing, that Carsten and I can link up on the app, and that he can follow my mental training along the way”

Pernille Harder – professional football player for Chelsea and captain of the Danish National Women’s Football Team

It takes time, often more than expected, to generate suitable thoughts and automate them into good mental patterns. It takes time and a lot of effort to become mentally strong. I believe that data and digitization really can move the mental mindset of athletes. MASS is currently my best suggestion to provide coaches with a practical digital tool for developing mentally strong athletes.

CARSTEN OLDENGAARD, mental coach within the field of sports

For 14 years I have worked to release the mental potential of athletes, teams, and coaches in the pursuit of top performances. Many hours have been spent developing strong mental tools and concepts. I have worked with medalists, who have participated in both the Danish Championships, European Championships, World Championships, Champions League, and the Olympic Games.

Extract of collaborations with sports athletes: Viktor Axelsen, Pernille Harder, Kevin Møller, Signe Bruun, Bjarte Myrhol. 

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