Get Your Mind Right: How the skills of focus and awareness work together to determine your performance and your future

by Brian Cain, MPM


I hear coaches tell their athletes all the time to “get your mind right.”

The University of Alabama Football used to have a chant they did before taking the field to “get your mind right.”  

But what does it actually mean to “get your mind right”?

First, let’s start with the analogy of a signal light and driving a car.  When you come to a green light (In control of yourself), you GO, a red light (losing control of yourself) you STOP. This is obvious.  What do you do when you come to a yellow light?

Yellow lights require AWARENESS.  When you get to the yellow light you run through a series of questions at a subconscious level and make a decision. How far is the light, how fast am I going, is there a cop behind me etc.  Then you decide.  It happens very rapidly.

To get your mind right requires AWARENESS.  To get your mind right you must first recognize that you aren’t in control of yourself, that you are losing control and then you must know HOW to get back in control of yourself and that starts with taking a deep breath to reconnect yourself to the present moment.

To get your mind right is to be in control of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally so that you can increase your chances of being in control of your performance.  Rule #1 of the mental game according to my mentor the great Dr. Ken Ravizza is that you must be in control of yourself before you can control your performance, this is the essence of “get your mind right.”

The purpose of “getting your mind right” is create the mental, physical and emotional state you need to succeed in the situation you’re in.

We must learn to have the self-control, self-awareness and discipline it takes to create the mindset required for the situation we are in have. 

Your mindset is the primary driver of what you do, and how well you do it. 

You perform at your best when you’re in green lights and you and in the present moment with a clear, calm and confident mindset, focused on process and knowing what you must do to be productive in that moment.

Confidence comes from preparation and more from production, from getting work done, preparation and knowing your process.

Mindset effects performance. 

The challenge is most coaches and athletes have never been trained on how to develop their mindset or manage their mental, physical and emotional states.

The majority of coach’s and athlete’s mindset is purely a reaction to the situation they’re in.

They are REACTIVE, much like a THERMOMETER reacts to the environment it’s in.  They let the situation determine their mindset and state as opposed to being the THERMOSTAT and intentionally setting their internal energy and their mindset needed to deal with the situation they are in.

To Manage your mindset, you need to manage your BFS.  Body language, Focus and Self-Talk.

Body Language: How are you physically and physiologically presenting and positioning yourself

Focus: Chose to focus on what you can control, what you need to do and not how you feel

Self Talk: Pay attention to voice inside of your head, the story you are telling yourself, choose to talk to yourself and not listen if it’s not the right story

*Feelings: Your BFS work together to create your state and your states will create the feelings you experience. To change the feelings you are experiencing, you must be aware and change your BFS

Refuse to let the events that happen to you, around you and inside you, distaste your body language, focus and self-talk and subsequently your mindset and how you feel.  

Learn to act differently than how you feel.

Learn how to let your actions be the determining factor that drives your feelings, not your feelings the determining factor and driver of your actions.

So… To say it simply… #GetYourMindRight and Go Green (lights)

This process helps them:

  • Return to the present moment
  • Identify distractions they need to remove
  • Intentionally choose how they respond
  • Focus on controlling what’s in their control

This is why recognizing signal lights and “going green” is one of my favorite strategies for helping athletes wipe their mental slate clean and get back in the game.

What to do next

Now that I’ve outlined how the awareness skill set can help your clients and athletes perform at a higher level, it’s your job to put what you’ve learned into practice.

The best place to start is by downloading the “Signal Lights” worksheet, if you haven’t already, and give it a try with at least one athlete this week. (Here’s that button again to download the worksheet.)

COACHES: Want to learn more coaching strategies to master the mental side of performance? Join my COACHES INSIDERS LIST and I’ll keep you updated on my next MPM Coaches Certification Course

If you found today’s video helpful, and you’re interested in more cutting-edge mental performance coaching strategies, the MPM Certification course is for you.

In this course, you will learn how to:

  • Get your athletes to perform their best when it means the most by using a SYSTEM to create an elite mindset. 
  • Compete at a higher level, more consistently—while managing distractions and adversity—by establishing the right routines. 
  • Create the championship culture you need in your program to develop elite athletic leaders and cultivate a clear vision that keeps everyone motivated and juiced up. 

Drop your info below to learn the systems and secrets I use to help the top coaches in the world compete at an elite level—year after year.