Last Updated on Saturday, 12 February 2011 14:08
There is a relation between the performance of a player and the level of his arousal. A player can be under- and over aroused. In the built up to a game we need to get everybody at an optimum arousal level in order to get peak performance. A model describing this is the Inverted-U model. This inverted-U relation between performance and arousal is shown below.
As you can see there is an optimum. Every player should play at the top of the curve. This is where you - the coach comes in.......
The key factors in arousal management are:
- Best performance results from optimum arousal states 'flow'.
- For each type of rugby skill there is a different optimum level of arousal (think of goal kicking, scrummaging, throw in the line-out).
- Each individual rugby player has his own different curve.
- Players at different levels of skill ability have different levels of optimum arousal (beginner / experienced).
- The task of you the coach is to match the curves of each individual.
A player should strive to get at optimum arousal level and should learn to control this. This is not so difficult. I discuss these things with my players making them aware of the curve and how they can control their arousal level.
A player is over-aroused
The attention of the player shifts, his vision narrows and he starts worrying. Other signs are muscle tightness. Everybody has different body signs.
A player is under-aroused
Unfortunately the same symptoms can apply here.......
The role of the coach
First get to know your players and their individual optimum arousal level. As a coach you have to realize that not every player needs a pep talk perhaps players need to relax and calm down.
You can help players to learn to improve their arousal management levels. I have drawn the inverted-U for the players and discussed the aspect of arousal management with them. The book "Winning, the Mental Way" gives you and your players exercises for this. As an example, I used to coach a club where in the second team the no. 8 of the National Women's team played amongst men. In the Women's league there was not enough competition for her and she started playing amongst the men. Going back to the National team games she had difficulty to play at that same intensity. The exercises in the book helped us out. She had a great World Cup...... The exercises let the players tune into their body signals, rate their arousal level and their performance after the game. This makes the players more aware of what is happening to them before and during the game. Mental rehearsal: let them compare good performance with the built up..
Emphasis on "doing your best" and set individual performance outcome goals. Create an atmosphere where players can develop. Check out the Joan Duda part of this site on "Task Orientated" environment and how you as a coach can create this.
Let the players visualize positive images. Again goalsetting is part of this.
Achieve Self-Control of arousal
Try to follow the same mental preparation procedures, make it a habit or routine. Encourage players to improve their skills in this area too. Key points are
- Develop the mental skills.
- Practice these skills.
- Do not use this the first time before a big game.
- This is a individual skill, every player is different.
- Improving these skills takes practice (with the National team player I mentioned above, it took 4 - 6 months). This is not a quick-win.
- Mental skills are not a substitute for physical skills, they complement each other.
More on management arousal and related subjects: