Mental Preparation for the "BIG" Track Meet

By Dr. Rick McGuire,
University of Missouri Head Track & Field Coach

The "BIG" Meet is no surprise! It really is what we are all working for - to become so capable, so competent, so good at what we do that we get to qualify for and to compete in the "BIG" Meet, where the other competitors are really good, too! For some, that may be the Olympic Games, the Olympic Trials, NCAA Championships, Conference Championships, the State Meet, or a meet against that special rival when we really want to be great!

And, that is the goal...that we don't just want to be in the "BIG" Meet, but we absolutely want to deliver our VERY BEST PERFORMANCE!

Just so we don't miss it, the biggest point of all here is this:

"THE BIG MEET! There is NO one BIG meet!
They are all simply Track Meets. You DO Track Meets REALLY WELL."

So, DON'T buy into all of the "bigness" talk! We just don't have the luxury of allowing ourselves to be distracted by unnecessary things that make the task seem like something that it isn't. We literally can't afford to become a part of the Big Meet mentality. Let it be simply another track meet!

Here are some key thoughts...like some "paints for your pallet"...you can be the artist and create a masterpiece with your athletes!

Key 1: Sports Psychology

Get your athletes "Thinking Right in Sport!"

Key 2: The C's in SUCCCCCCCCCESS!!

  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Composure
  • Commitment
  • Character
  • Capabilities
  • Courage
  • CONTROL
  • CHOICE

These C's can all be CONTROLLED! It is simply a CHOICE! It is YOUR CHOICE!

Key 3: Confidence is a Choice!

  • Choose to become more capable – train physically and mentally.
  • Choose to focus on Performance.

Key 4: Composure – "Be in Control" – Control Your Arousal

  • Get in the "ZONE"
  • For a given person, on a given day, with a given task, in a given environment, with a given set of conditions…there is a GIVEN LEVEL of arousal that will ALLOW for OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE!
  • It is YOUR CHOICE!

Key 5: Concentration is also a Choice!

Key 6: Have Fun! – Choose to tap into your own Sports Brilliance!



About Dr. Rick McGuire:

Since the early 1980's, Rick has been head track and field coach at the University of Missouri, and he can look back on his tenure with great pride and satisfaction, as certainly his Tigers have established an exceptional record of success in the athletic arena, in the classroom and, most importantly, in their lives beyond the University.

Of even greater importance than what successes his athletes have achieved, is Coach McGuire's belief and commitment to how and why those achievements are made possible. With his unique personal and philosophical approach to coaching, where the priority is placed on the person rather than the program, and the focus is on the athletic and personal development of each individual, the track and field athletes at Missouri have flourished under McGuire's tutelage.

In his coaching, teaching, writing and public speaking, Coach McGuire shares and models his understanding and belief that "It does matter whether we win or lose, because it absolutely does matter that we win in the life of every single individual with whom we have the opportunity to share. It's all about winning kids with sport, rather than winning sport with kids!"

Coach McGuire is not only known around the track, he is a highly regarded professor in the classroom as well. Holding his Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from the University of Virginia, Dr. McGuire is a member of the faculty in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology in the University of Missouri's College of Education. He is one of only a few NCAA Division I coaches who regularly teach both a graduate and undergraduate course load.