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By Ryan Lucchesi and Tyler Kunick, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line and Outside Linebackers, Muskego High School (WI)

See how the Warriors developed a series of mental training sessions that resulted in winning 26 straight games and are the number one ranked team in Wisconsin.

By Ryan Lucchesi and Tyler Kunick
Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line and Outside Linebackers
Muskego High School (WI)
Twitter: @CoachLucch

 

 

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The “Why”:

At Muskego High School we compete in the state of Wisconsin’s highest classification, Division 1, and in what many consider the most highly competitive league, the Classic 8 Conference. For many years our program was “knocking on the door” but left searching for that breakthrough. In 2017, we took a major step forward and went to the State Semifinals before losing a close contest. In preparation for the 2018 season, we discussed ideas as a staff that can continue to help push us over the edge. We searched every angle of our program, leaving no stone unturned. One significant area we wanted to develop was the area of our mindset. We knew we could continue to push our young men to grow in the areas of leadership and character development through what we called “mental training.”

 

Implementation = The “How”

As a staff, we decided it would be best to achieve this through what essentially became a book study. We decided on reading Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf. In Wisconsin, we are given five contact days throughout the summer for Football activities. Three of these days are spent away at a local university. It was during those contact days in the summer where we laid the foundation for our mental training and the conversations we would have around this book.

At Muskego, we are fortunate to have the numbers to be a full two-platoon. During the regular season, we would meet on Thursday evenings as a defensive unit. Our Thursday nights during the season grew to become very special days for us as a program. We practice under the lights on Thursday nights which allows our young men to attend the home Junior Varsity or Freshman game that week. After those games, our Gridiron Club hosts a team dinner at 5 pm. We will schedule mental training 45 minutes to an hour after dinner begins.

Week 7 game, praise was given to 3 kids who touch the end zone

 

Week 8 - next week, you see the difference in the number of kids who touch the end zone

 

Pursuit.

Practice

Positive reinforcement

 

Positive reinforcement

 

Positive language - encouragement

 

Positive reinforcement - growth & application from previous week’s coaching

 

Weight Room and Off-Season

Our off-season has been outstanding. Part of this is due to the leadership we have returning in house but also the culture has been established that we are a weight room football team. This has been the case prior to starting mental training. What mental training has done is elevated the energy levels and attitudes of our young men. You see a conscious effort from older players (Seniors & Juniors to be) helping, lifting with, or supporting younger players (Sophomores to be). 

We have continued to offer a mental training session on Wednesday mornings at 6:15am for our student-athletes. The conversations continue to be positive and help get our kids to understand the process of becoming great applies to your school work, weights, personal/social life, and beyond.

 

 

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  • The “guided reading” sessions that the staff at Muskego established to facilitate a mental training development.
  • The coach-led to player-led visualization program that is used before games during the season.
  • Details on events like the “Character’s Dare” and “Warrior Events” which are routine outings during the off-season.
  • How the staff at Muskego High School revolutionized their communication process to be more positive.

 

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Conclusion: The Results

It may be impossible to quantify the impact of our mental training sessions. The authentic vulnerability shared amongst these fifteen to eighteen-year-old young men was nothing short of special. We developed a true sense of brotherhood and it carried into our season by showing itself in the most challenging moments. Our emphasis on focusing on ourselves and visualization created a sense of confidence in the most adverse moments. We can wholeheartedly admit that there is no way we go 14-0 and win a State Championship without the countless lessons shared and learned in these moments.

 

 

Meet Coach Lucchesi: Ryan has spent the past 5 seasons at Muskego High School. In that time, they have won 3 Conference Champions and qualified for the playoffs in 4 of the 5 seasons, winning 11 playoff games. Highlighted are the last two seasons with a trip the State Semifinals in 2017 and culminating with an undefeated State Championship in 2018. Coach Lucchesi has coached on both sides of the ball and covered nearly every position group over the past 8 seasons.

Meet Coach Kunick: Tyler has spent 6 seasons as the DC at Oconomowoc High School starting in the fall of 2011 through the fall 2016 season.  Throughout his career, he has coached DBs, OLBs, and spent one season also coaching QBs. Coach Kunick has been at Muskego for two years coaching OLBs. In his two years at Muskego, he has been fortunate enough to be a part of a Final Four run and now in 2018 a Division 1 State Championship.

 

 

 

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