Mindset Matters: Let’s Talk Resilience with Danielle McDonough | CoachThem

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Mindset Matters: Let’s Talk Resilience  with Danielle McDonough

Mindset Matters: Let’s Talk Resilience with Danielle McDonough

In the world of sports, the emphasis on physical training and skill development often overshadows the role of mental preparation. Danielle McDonough, a former division one and professional player with a background in the NWHL for Oakville Ice, 2 years of playing professionally in Switzerland, a Masters Degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology, AND the author of The Empowered Athlete: Self-Confidence, Self-Acceptance, and Self-Worth: An Athlete’s Guide to Excellence,” has been working with athletes on the mental side of performance since the early 2010s. She’s made it her mission to highlight the significance of mental preparation in sports through her training course titled Unlocking Resilience for Youth Athletes & Coaches: Prepping the Mind for Performance. McDonough speaks to the importance of mental resilience and shared with us some valuable insights into her training course.

McDonough’s training course highlights the importance of mental resilience. Resilience is not just about bouncing back after a setback but also leveraging those experiences to grow and become stronger. “Preparation plays a huge part in that,” she emphasizes. By equipping athletes with the tools to properly prepare for practices and games, coaches and players set themselves up to maximize their growth potential.















Recognizing the high-pressure nature of coaching, McDonough’s approach is applicable to players and coaches, and emphasizes the importance for coaches to develop their own resilience tools as well. Whether it’s managing teams, making crucial decisions, or coping with losses, these skills enable coaches to lead effectively and navigate the stressors of their profession.

McDonough outlined the core components of her training course, shedding light on why resilience is huge in the world of sports and beyond. “The bounce back,” she says, “is crucial.” In a world where perfection doesn’t exist, the ability to recover from setbacks with resilience and learn from those experiences is invaluable, both on and off the ice.

“Resilience is not just bouncing back after a setback, but also using

the experience to grow and become even stronger.”

- Danielle McDonough

Below are four practical mental preparation techniques from McDonough:

1. Breathing: Athletes are introduced to relaxation techniques through controlled breathing, a tool to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.

2. Visualization: Encouraging athletes to visualize success, placing emphasis on sensory details and personal achievements.

3. Self-Talk: The power of positive affirmations is harnessed to boost confidence and maintain focus.

4. Focus and Concentration: Athletes are guided through exercises that enhance their ability to sustain concentration during games and practices.

Strategies for implementation: Coaches develop a personalized routine before each practice and game, incorporating diverse techniques like controlled breathing, affirmations, focused intentions, visualization, and perhaps a final burst of pump-up music. Coaches play an important role in teaching these tools, guiding athletes to create their unique routines, and encouraging consistency in their application, especially during challenging moments.

These practical techniques are designed to enhance resilience; from breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to visualization and positive self-talk, each strategy serves as a building block for mental strength. By incorporating these tools into routines, coaches and athletes can strengthen their ability to maintain focus, manage stress, and perform at their peak.


February 22, 2024

Written by Kelsey Dold & Danielle McDonough 


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