How To Build More Aggressive Athletes


We often hear from parents and coaches that their athletes are just too nice, cautious, hesitant or conservative during competitions.  However, many of these same athletes tend to be much more aggressive during practices.  So how do we flip that script to obtain consistent behavior in practices and in competitions?


The first step we must address with our athletes is developing a common definition of the word aggressiveness that everyone agrees on.  In today’s society the word aggressiveness is often associated with negative or harmful actions towards others.  We want to build a common understanding of associating the word aggressiveness to taking chances, being persistent, asking questions in practice, reaching out to mentors, etc.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretsky


One of our most enjoyable mindset exercises we use to help our athletes develop this new meaning of aggressiveness is having them come up with their own personal alter ego name.  Not only is this a fun exercise to incorporate with your athletes but this allows them to step outside of themselves and focus on their performance rather than any specific mindset red flags that may be holding them back.  Numerous athletes, movie stars and other professional performers have developed alter egos to help them overcome their personal barriers and ultimately perform at their best.


Once you come up with a name for your alter ego the next step is writing down all of the qualities and characteristics the alter ego is going to be defined by. You can also come up with a contrasting list that describes the qualities and characteristics of their inner “wimp”. Another effective strategy is coming up with a “flip the switch” action which is going to allow the athlete to transition into their alter ego.  Some examples our athletes have used have been physical gestures like clapping loudly, jumping high or adjusting a part of their uniform.  Others have used more internal gestures like personal affirmations.  In addition wearing certain colors, changing up their hair style, putting markings on uniforms are all great ways to make the alter ego feel real.  Any of the above examples are great as long as the athletes remember to use them consistently and understand the true meaning behind them.


Finally, the most important step of all is for parents and coaches.  If we are going to be teaching our athletes that the process is more important than the outcome then we must be rewarding for performance measures rather than results.  Many athletes often display a lack of aggressiveness in athletics because they have the fear of letting down their teammates, parents and coaches.  So it is vitally important for parents and coaches to acknowledge and reward their athletes when they take chances and give their best efforts especially when the result doesn’t come out in their favor.  This will allow you to build very trustworthy relationships with your athletes and minimize their fear of failure and fear of letting others down.