Dr. Rob Bell
Dr. Rob Bell is the crème de la crème when it comes to mental preparation for football, or for any sport, for that matter.
I bothered him for three months straight to get him to speak on mental preparation for football, and he finally gave-in.
Why? Because the dude knows what he’s talking about.
Dr. Bell is a Certified Consultant of the Association for Applied Psychology.
He’s even authored a book on the topic, entitled, “Mental Toughness Training for Golf.”
Dr. Bell has even been featured in high profile publications like the NY Times and Runner’s World, among several others.
So when he told me he’d be willing to share some tips for my readers, I had to jump at the opportunity.
Alvin: First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
I was checking out your website, and your resume and credibility when it comes to mental coaching for athletes is exceptional.
For people that may not be familiar with your work, can you speak on your experience and background real quick?
Dr. Bell: Thanks Coach, My background, passion, and expertise is Sport Psychology, period.
I simply love working with athletes, coaches, and teams helping them play their best when it matters the most.
As far as my background, I have a Ph.D from the University of Tennessee, a Masters at Temple University, and I was once a Sport
Psychology professor at Ball State University.
I’m the author of Mental Toughness Training for Golf, I’m currently writing my second book, The Hinge.
My professional athletes are mostly golfers on the PGA Tour, and I have caddied on tour for my clients as well.
Alvin: Awesome. Now let’s get into some tips, if you don’t mind.
From your experiences in this field, what would you say are the three biggest mistakes athletes make when it comes to preparing for competition, or “game day,” if you will?
Dr Bell: (laughs) That’s funny, because I often say I work with three types of athletes:
Athlete #1 is like “Sheldon” from (the show) Big Brain Theory.
They think way too much out there on the field.
They’re often very detail-oriented and they’re the best practice-day players, but they just think too much, and thus get in their own way while playing.
Athlete #2 is the road block athlete. They have experienced a road-block of some sort; an injury, a bad player/coach relationship, or a loss in confidence.
Related: How to Gain Confidence in Football
There is just a “block” that they need to work through so they can “get back to what they used to do.”
Athlete #3 is what I call the “game-day athlete.” They “show-up” on game day.
The problem is, we just don’t now what athlete is going to show-up.
There’s very little consistency in their play. It’s all or nothing.
In their case, it’s often just a matter of hoping rather than knowing that “it” will be there.
This type of athlete devotes no time to mental preparation, or they don’t believe in it, and as a result, they are inconsistent.
Alvin: Well I don’t watch Big Bang Theory, but I know what you meant (laughs).
Anyways, I’m a big believer in the “power of thought,” and mental imagery.
Can you speak on the importance of visualization real quick, and how it can help an athlete improve their performance, confidence,
Dr. Bell: It’s the most powerful technique that we can use as athletes, and as people.
The main reason why athletes don’t visualize, is because they don’t want to see themselves performing poorly.
BUT the brain is a muscle, and the more we work at it, the better we get.
The key, is just having a committed plan to work on visualization as a part of practice, and NOT just before game day or warm-ups, although that is a part of it as well.
Alvin: Unfortunately, I learned most of what I know about the power of visualization after I was done playing in college.
Now I always knew visualization was powerful, but books like “Think and Grow Rich,” and more recently, movies like “The Secret” really helped me realize that “feeling the feeling” of what you’re visualizing is a key part of it.
Would you agree?
Dr. Bell: YES! I wish I had someone like myself in college as well…..The ONLY difference between people that reach success and don’t—boils down to their ability to believe.
Bad things and struggle are still going to happen, but when we believe, we adopt a philosophy, and a plan of action that “it will work out!”
You just keep at it, and keep giving yourself opportunities for success. Re-focus on the next play and keep getting better….
Alvin:You’re the expert, so I’m going to turn the direction of this
conversation over to you, if you don’t mind.
Kinda freestyle here, and share with me whatever else you think athletes reading this interview need to know when it comes to preparing themselves mentally to optimize their performance on the field.
Dr. Bell: Mental toughness is all about playing well under pressure, and coping with or dealing with struggle.
Both of these will happen at some point.
We must put ourselves in situations in practice that stress both of these.
We must put ourselves, and want to be in pressure situations, so we know where our mind is going to go in competition.
It’s all about what we do today!
If we don’t make that play on Tuesday, or go through the motions, it isn’t going to be made later in the week when it really matters.
Alvin: Well I know you’re extremely busy, so I don’t want to hold you long.
Are there any final words you want to share with us before I let you go?
Dr. Bell: When I met Chuck Pagano at the Combine this year, he asked me a question?!?
Here was an NFL coach asking me a question on what I stress to athletes!
We talked for a few minutes, but I could tell immediately WHY his players love playing for this man.
He is always trying to get better and get those around him better as well.
Here in Indy, it’s all about #chuckstrong.
We aren’t our circumstance, we are our vision… We don’t know when our last day is going to be, so we owe it to put forth everything on every play. As another head coach, Chip Kelly of Oregon states,
“Win The Day.”
Alvin: Damn, that’s powerful. You should look into motivational speaking, man!
Dr. Bell: I already do that.
Alvin: Alrighty then, moving along… (laughs)
OK, so if someone reading this wanted to learn more about you, the services you offer, and maybe even wanted to contact you, how should they go about doing so?
Dr. Bell: My website is www.drrobbell.com, my Twitter handle is @drrobbbell.
Check out my series of videos on mental toughness on my website, “Answer The Bell.”
Alvin: Again, thanks for your time, Dr. Bell. Have a great weekend.
Dr. Bell: Thanks mate! It is awesome doing what you do… No one gets there alone, we all need others….
Do you have any tips for getting mentally prepared for battle on the field that you’d like to add? Leave a comment below!
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