Intro to our Mental Health Segment


By Petra Kowalski, April 4, 2017 (REPRINT) 

This blog is devoted to helping you, the Ultimate player, develop the mindset, mental skills and mental toughness you want and need to perform at your best when it matters most.

Let's get started.

We’ve all been there - in that moment where we needed to be performing at the top of our game and we just couldn’t make it happen. It might have been at a tryout, a game against a rival team, the semi-finals of a tournament or the game-to-go to Nationals. Wherever it was for you, I’m guessing it wasn’t fun. I’m guessing it was frustrating and confusing.

ou might be wondering why I’m starting on such an awesome note.

The reason is this: those moments when our performance matters most tend to come toward the middle or end of the season. And too often, we (as players and coaches) don’t think about the impact of our mental game on our performance until that moment - the one when we need to perform and we can’t. Sometimes, even if we know the importance of the mental game, we rarely take the time to train it properly and deliberately from the start of the season.

In my experience, this isn’t from a lack of wanting to train the mental game. It’s from a lack of knowing how to train the mental game.

So that’s what we’re here to do - teach you how to train your mind by providing insight from research and experience coupled with tangible, practical ways for you to deliberately develop your mental game.

And we’re starting now. Starting as club teams across the country are hosting preseason track workouts and preparing for tryouts. This is the time we start training the mental game so that when you get to that big moment in the middle or the end of the season, you can look back with confidence - knowing you’ve not only put in the physical work so your body can perform, but you’ve also put in the mental work so your mind can perform.

"There is no shortcut and there are no hacks...The work we do here is about cultivating sturdy and effective habits." - Anonymous 

What you’ll need to start training:

-A journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it should be something durable - something that can withstand the treachery of living in your Ultimate bag. Why? Because training your mind requires entering your mind, reflecting and doing something with what you find. You’ll want a place to keep notes and track progress.

-Hunger & humility. I’m excited to be your guide and your coach, but this entire process is really up to you. Be wary of those offering hacks or quick tricks to enhance your mental toughness. There is no shortcut and there are no hacks. Training your mind requires the same commitment, effort, and work as training your body. I’ll give you questions to reflect on, exercises to practice, and prompts to think about, but the progress you make depends on the work you put in. The work we do here together is about cultivating sturdy and effective habits.

Ready for your first assignment?

-Pull out your journal. Take a minute or two and reflect on your past couple seasons. What do you believe was your biggest mental stumbling block? What was your biggest mental strength?

This assignment is just to start developing your own self-awareness. But if you feel like sharing, I would love to hear what elements of the mental game you are most interested in working on this season and you might be suprised to hear that others have similar thoughts and questions. Feel free to email me at You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Laurel Oldershaw