Coaching the Mental Game

Leadership Philosophies and Strategies for Peak Performance in Sports and Everyday Life
by H.A. Dorfman | 384 pages

Harvey Dorfman was one of the world’s leading mental training experts. Major League Baseball described him as a “pioneering sports psychologist.” He earned World Series rings as the mental skills coach for both the Oakland A’s and Florida Marlins. In this book, he covers the A to Z of mental discipline. Big Ideas we explore include Carpe momentum (seize the task at hand!), the peak performance cycle (approach + results + response), the blind men (and their elephant), and Percussus Resurgo (“Struck down. I rise again!”).


“It’s agreed upon ‘within the ranks’: coaches do influence players’ performance, for better or for worse. The nature of the influence is determined by the substance and style of the coach’s delivery: what a coach says; how and when he or she says it. Who he or she is—as a coach and as a person.

Having acknowledged this, effective coaches strive to understand how best to know themselves and their athletes. How to communicate with their players. How to instruct, direct, and lead. How to ‘connect’ in ways that will enhance the athlete and his or her performance. This connection implies a focus that goes well beyond Xs and Os. Beyond the physical tactics and fundamental mechanics of the sport.

The coach should therefore have an understanding of the athlete’s mental makeup and develop appropriate coaching strategies aimed at helping a player’s mental approach to performance. Every coach I’ve ever spoken to recognizes the relationship between the athlete’s mental approach and performance. Yet few coaches devote specific time to that aspect of the game. I have asked many of them to tell me why.

The reason/excuse I’ve heard is a universal one: ‘I don’t have the time.’ The truth I hear less frequently: ‘I don’t know where to start.’ Perhaps this book will give impetus and direction for that start.”

~ H. A. Dorfman from Coaching the Mental Game

Harvey Dorfman was one of the world’s leading mental training experts.

Major League Baseball described him as a “pioneering sports psychologist.” He earned World Series rings as the mental skills coach for both the Oakland A’s and Florida Marlins.

I got this book because I love all things mental toughness and I’m having fun seeing if we can get through *all* the best books on how to train our minds. This is a nice addition to our collection of mental training books. We now have 20+ of the best books on how to get your mind right.

Elite athletes and coaches agree that, once we’ve attained a baseline of physical mastery, peak performance is mostly mental. Yet, very few coaches focus on the mental side of the game in their training. I love Dorfman’s point that most simply don’t know where to start.

Dorfman is a classic, old-school coach—a blend of the two coaches he references the most in his book: John Wooden and Vince Lombardi.

The book features an A to Z list on all things mental toughness for both the coach *and* the athlete—providing a ton of wisdom to Optimize. (Get a copy here.)

Of course, the book is packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to explore a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

H.A. Dorfman

Noted sports psychologist and sports psychology counselor .