Most athletes will tell you that regardless of how much they train physically for an upcoming competition, mental preparation is equally important.
Many Cal Poly athletes have worked with Jeff Troesch, a mental coach who trains every athletic team on campus except football, wresting, and swimming and diving.
Chris Kirk, a graduate student studying industrial technology, is beginning his third year on the golf team and has worked with Troesch for about a year.
Kirk said that he has seen a large improvement in his game and is now more comfortable in pressure situations.
“You get to a crunch time when you need to pull off a tough shot,” Kirk said. “We’ve worked on having a positive attitude about things and accepting situations for what they are and not trying to put any extra added pressure on yourself.”
Troesch was inspired to work with the mental side of athletics after working for four years as director of media relations with the Seattle SuperSonics.
“I would have been helped working with a sports psychologist,” Troesch said. “Part of my inspiration was my own challenges dealing with anger and frustration as an athlete. I really didn’t have any way to deal with or reconcile those feelings.”
As a mental coach, Troesch has trained athletes since 1988 at every level from collegiate competitors to touring golf professionals.
His experience includes a stint as director of mental training for David Leadbetters’ Golf Academies. He has also worked as a consultant to the Seattle Mariners, the Detroit Tigers, the NBA and the U.S. Soccer Federation.
“I feel like I can help athletes speed the learning curve of how to perform and help them integrate performance enhancement strategies in ways that are customized,” Troesch said. “I want to help the athletes enjoy the experience more, perform better, and be more grounded human beings.”
Troesch said that he spends a lot of time doing coach work and often meets with teams as a whole at meetings or practices. He also works one-on-one with athletes like Kirk.
“I observe sports on campus and get a lot of information to use while working with teams from attending games, matches and tournaments,” Troesch said.
An off-campus sport like golf is more challenging for Troesch to follow. Kirk said that in most of his sessions with Troesch, they discuss situations that he has experienced at practice or in a match.
“He is very easy to approach and really does a good job of relating to the athletes on their level. He takes input from you and works with you,” Kirk said.
Kirk said that he would recommend Troesch to other athletes and has seen improvements in his game.
“There was a two week stretch in the spring where I won a college tournament while working with him and set every individual scoring record for Cal Poly,” Kirk said.
Troesch does not guarantee wins to the athletes he works with, but said that the most important piece of advice he can offer is to focus on and enjoy the process of developing as an athlete rather than fixating on the results.