T Nation

Coach Davies and the Mind

Coach, you have mentioned in many threads that you have a strong philosophy about the mental aspect of training. You seem to be just WAITING for someone to ask you about this, so here I am! What techniques do you use, how often, and what education do you give them about this topic? Thanks again for all of your outstanding help!

Nelms, i was wondering where you cheered at.

Jeremy - finally, FINALLY, thank you, where do we start. I might be overstepping my boundaries on this but this is the largest topic that I have seen on the posts. Basically lets cut to the damn chase - everyone has spent so much time on “set & reps” without a slightest hint at what a training program does to creating the athlete’s mindset. What are your thoughts - do you visualize success in your sport / daily limiting? In faith, Coach Davies

I agree, I would love to hear some pearls of wisdom from him. Coach, I read your article on the Infinity site and you mentioned about getting instinct to take over in performance, this is very similar to what Dr. W Timothy Galway (sp) wrote about in his Inner Game books. Are you familiar with his writings etc? To those that aren’t, a brief overview is that in any situation there are 2 selfs, 1 & 2. Self 1 is the one that ‘tells’ you what to do and focusses on the mechanics whereas self 2 is instinct. The actual technique of most activities can be learned in a very short time and his approach is to trick self 1 and let self 2 (instinct) perform the activity. When you think back to an exceptional performance, most, if not all, situations felt automatic, and natural and when you are performing poorly you are generally focussing on how to do the activity.

Yee-haw, the mental game. My favorite. It comes out both in training and competition. As for training, when I’m down to those last few, hard reps, focus and breathing is important otherwise my muscles won’t get the job done. It’s strange, it’s more than just a matter of will: it’s concentration and confidence mostly. And I find that confidence breeds confidence in other areas of my workouts and competition. I’ve often believed that the game isn’t won entirely on the field; rather, it’s everything you do in preparation that helps you win. And that includes mental strength. As for focus exercises, I think meditation is tremendous. Simply focusing on a sound, a candle, or a mental vision will help you focus when it’s game time. I can go on and on about this, but I’ll wait to see what others have to say.

A athlete must be conditioned (or deconditioned) such that all activities are of a reflex action, barren of thought - just doing. Movements are practiced in volume, often blindfolded to enhance sensory functions. I will be pleased more to discuss more if you wish. In faith, Coach Davies

We obviously share the same about this topic. Few understand it and prefer to mock it. Confidence breeds success and success recreates itself. Will is the most powerful tool on a field of competition. Hopefully others will join in - we’ll see. In faith, Coach Davies

The mental aspect of any pursuit is a fascinating concept. Anyone who has ever participated in sport or training (both near and dear to my heart) can appreciate those moments when everything comes together and personal athletic performance excels. Mental conditioning plays a significant factor in success. Personal success, business success, athletic success can be greatly influenced by positive mental preparation. I would love to gain more insight into this from Coach Davies. The carry over to all areas of life could be immense.

Funny that I saw this thread this morning.

I was doing some bench presses this morning. (not exactly chopping/wheelbarrowing/etc., but sometimes life gets in the way and you want to get something in)

I was using a weight I had struggled with before. Before each set, I simply said to myself “Light weight” a few times. When I took the bar off the bench, I kept telling myself how light the bar felt in my hands.

It helped - I got all the desired reps out, which hadn’t happened before.

It was a nice feeling.
“You do what you practice.”

I think anyone that has done Coach Davies’ programs can get a feel on how to build up the mental/physical connection. I noted on the first day that a huge part of the success of this program is just getting the mind to convince the body to keep going…and eventually the body no longer resists.

I believe that the mental faculities are so important in sports that I stress to the youths I coach that they should put just as much effort into their studies as into their sports. The success that West Point has had with their cadets is a balance of rote learning with creative thinking. The cadets are also shed of any unnecessarities, such as living in simple dorms with white walls, the develop there focus.

This obviously applies to all areas of life as these cadets are trained to lead in battle, which can easily be transfered to any sporting event. Additionally, West Point has produced more business CEOs than any other higher learning institutions and they are highly sought by companies.

In 1993-94, Mark Messier “WILLED” the New York Rangers to Win the
Stanley Cup after a 54 year DROUGHT!..Wow, “Blind-Folded” you say,
“Coach Davies.” Maybe that explains why I close my eyes while
doing leg presses, inc. curls, chinups or calf raises. Makes sense.
Thanks for the great thread, guys!!!..(Joey Z.)

I would like to watch this unfold abit and hope you can share some of your recent readings. I reccomened them in my initial interview with TMag but do not know how many engulfed themselves into it. Please if you have the time to expand. In faith, Coach Davies

Im definitely not a mental expert, but when i played tennis competitively my coach told me to visualize a match when I was not playing, and to visualize my serve before I hit the ball during matches. I believe that this helped out a great deal in keeping good form especially when fatigued. I remember when I visualized too that sometimes I would hit the ball out in my head. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes when I visualized my stroke, I knew if it were a shot in a real match, then it wouldn’t have been a good shot. In my visualizations I began to get better at my strokes and would rarely make a mistake, and with that came more consistency on the tennis court. I know it sounds strange, maybe only someone who has done what I am talking about would understand.

What a gret thread, thanks for the response Coach I see we are on the same wavelength, Burritto Jimmy I know exactly what you are talking about, one of the tennis tricks I read was called ‘bounce-hit’ what you do is when the ball comes over the net and lands say bounce to yourself and then when you strike it say hit. (don’t ask about volleys as read the book 20 years ago)this allows self 2 (instinct)to take more control. On visualition/muscle memory what we used to work on when playing competitive golf was pre shot routine, visualising the shot and then recalling a similar shot executed well and how it felt then trying to recreate that same feeling. A lot of this can carry over into training too.

Here’s a little example of how focus can be detrimental. This morning at the gym I went from my bench press sets and then over to the triceps push down station. I generally keep my focus during rest periods, breathing, stretching, etc. And because of this, totally ignored the cute girl who apparently gave me a big smile and asked me a question as I was scribbling in my notebook. Another gym grommet let me in on what happened. Fantastic! Well, next time I’ll have to find her and apologize.

Great topic…here’s an interesting study. An Australian psychologist named Alan Richardson took three groups of basketball players and tested their ability to make free throws. The first group was instructed to spend twinty minutes a day practicing free throws, the second group was not to practice, and the third group was to spend twenty minutes a day visualizing themselves throwing perfect shots in the basket. The group that did nothing showed no improvement. The first group improved their play 24 percent, and apparently, (and if true, incredibly) the third group (the group that only visualized) improved their play 23 percent!..pretty cool, huh?

I remember another post on stuff like this. Did everybody like my cool rowing story? We were just juniors & we beat up the local university at their regatta just because we thought we could.

Coach, THANK YOU. This has obviously sparked a lot of interest. I am an example of how the power of the mind can literally change someone’s life, but I’ve not ever really used its power outside of changing who I WAS. Now, I would like to use it in ALL of the areas of my life, including training and the work place, but I have found it more difficult to apply in these areas. So, that’s why I wondered what your philosophy and teaching were concerning this topic.

I believe it was Jeremy who asked what my belief in this area was. I apologize but I could fill the magazine for the next few months on this topic. And yes, Al - this transcends every element of life. Recall how you were introduced to me in an interview. I noted my clients, simply win. They overcome adversity, they deny pain and walk the pathway of greatness. They build to become a cohesive unit that becomes a brotherhood. They strive and reach and know of no boundary no high or too tough to assault. I say with deepest humility look to the post “Coach Davies Renegades” - see how they have grown together, exalt each other and share there pain. They are becoming a team. What does that mean to you - BELIEVE that we all have greatest within, UNLEASH the power that YOU CAN ACHIEVE WHAT YOU ASPIRE TO. - I remain in faith, Coach Davies