Developing a Mental Training Program

Nov 18, 2019 | Program Development, Physical / Mental Development

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



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.

Below are methods we used to design our mental training sessions:

Set a high standard and enforce it

  1. A locked door that doesn't open after we start
  2. No phones
  3. Silence means silence


Questions were given to guide players’ thinking about a chapter, and some direct instruction happened from time to time, but it was purposely built for players to take the lead in the meetings.  We focused on teaching the value of the process - both practice habits and school habits.  “Dominate Everything” mindset created.  This became an integral focus of our defense the remainder of the season. We talked in terms of dominating every aspect of our days. It was our goal to dominate breakfast, school, practice, weight room, and lastly our games.