Stop Over-Thinking

Recently I’ve been coaching a high school football player.

I LOVE coaching teens, and I especially love coaching teen athletes.

This specific teen came to me looking for coaching to help him improve his game as a high school football player and to help him develop some confidence and better social skills.

As he explained to me what was going on during his varsity football games, it was clear that he was simply overthinking.

As a result of his overthinking, he was slow on the field and he wasn’t confident in his blocking assignments, which slowed him down even more, and he was constantly worried about letting his coach and team mates down.

And, to make things worse, some of the things that his coach was having him do to improve his game, were actually making him think even more and making the problem worse.

The very first coaching session, we identified the problem, OVER-THINKING.

It was awesome because as soon as this young man became aware of the problem, he knew that this was indeed the problem.

He also knew exactly what the solution was: STOP OVER-THINKING!

How Do You Stop Over-Thinking?

Over the years, I have coached lots of high school athletes.

I’ve coached them as their actual coach on the field or court, and I’ve coached others from a distance over zoom.

One of the biggest problems that athletes face is over-thinking.


The problem is, aside from simply stopping this, most players and coaches have no idea how to actually stop.

So, I thought I’d share with you how I help players get out of their own heads and stop over-thinking.

The Fist Step is awareness.

You have to be aware that you are over-thinking, and you have to be aware of how and what you are thinking.

This is hard because one of the things we’re constantly asked is, “What were you thinking?” followed by the sage old advice, “THINK!”

Unfortunately, in this case, thinking is the problem.

So, take to time to be aware of these thoughts and ways of thinking.

The Second Step is to manage your attention.

Now that you know that you are overthinking, and now that you have a good idea of what you are thinking, start managing your attention to these thoughts.

Sometimes this includes identifying new thoughts to occupy your attention.

This football player shifted his attention from thoughts like, “What if I mess up?” or “What if my coach is mad?” to thoughts like, “I’ve got this.” or “All I need to do is fire off fast.”

When you manage your attention, you’ll have more energy and strength for the task at hand.

The Third Step is to make things simple.

This is where we often mess things up.

We think we understand what’s going on, we’re managing our attention, but then the prefrontal cortex wants to take over and complicate things.

Simple is better.

Identify the ONE THING that would improve everything.

Often in sports this is intensity or execution. Simplify things by narrowing it down to just the basic.

Your subconscious mind love simple. That’s it’s language.

The Fourth Step is to practice ways of BEING.

For this football player it was practicing BEing quick and technical.

For me it’s often as simple as practicing BEing kind or confident.

Practice mentally, emotionally, and physically.

And the Fifth and Final Step is to trust yourself.

This one is huge.

You’ll be tempted to doubt yourself and think of all the things that could go wrong.

Don’t. That would be over-thinking again.

Trust that YOU ARE this new way of BEing.

You’ve got this.

Reprogramming Your Subconscious Mind

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school athlete or a 40 year old mom or dad, you have the power to reprogram your mind to work the way you want it to.

Your mind has already been programmed from the time you were young, with only slight and subtle shifts over time.

Make the effort to start reprogramming your mind in a way that benefits you.

I used to worry a lot about what others thought about me, In fact, this is still something that I struggle with.

BUT, I’ve started reprograming my mind in a way that better serves me.

Rather than focusing on the people who might not like who I am or what I’m doing, I focus on who I want to be and all the people that I want to help.

My teen athlete ditched his old programming of worrying that he was going to mess up, or that his coach would be mad, and has installed new programing where he focuses on how simple his job is and how good he is at it, and how much he’s prepared and how ready he is for this.

Tips for How To Stop Over-Thinking and Reprogramming Your Mind

  1. The Fist Step is awareness.
  2. The Second Step is to manage your attention.
  3. The Third Step is to make things simple.
  4. The Fourth Step is to practice ways of BEING.
  5. And the Fifth and Final Step is to trust yourself.