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Mindset training: The important but often forgotten skill in sports

The importance of learning the skill young
General manager and coach of The Dome, Noah Welch is helping athletes approach sports with a better mindset. (File photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Mindset development is often the most undertrained skill in sports but also one of the most important.

Learning the necessary tools to overcome adversity and make the right plays are just some of the many aspects of that.

General manager and coach of The Dome Noah Welch, who teaches athletes and teams these skills, said many who come through his classes struggle with the mental aspect of sports.

“Particularly our teenage boys. They hold back so much because they’re afraid to fail. They’re afraid of what their teammates and coaches are going to think,” he said.

“I’ve found the female athletes are a lot more willing to just go for it… 100 per cent it’s a problem.”

The biggest contributor to that problem he explained is the amount of time kids spend on their cell phones and social media. All young athletes see on the internet are highlight reels and successful plays but Welch urges that’s just not reality.

“I think that’s part of it that contributes to why they don’t deal with failure well is because they don’t have a realistic view of what athletic development is and how making mistakes is a massive part of development,” he said.

In addition to opening The Dome Red Deer, Welch has an extensive history in sports.

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts Welch graduated from Harvard University while also playing hockey.

Once he graduated he played 13 years of professional hockey including time with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

He also played in the American Hockey League, and the Swedish Hockey League, and represented his country at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

He retired in 2018 to build The Dome after moving to Red Deer with his wife Alissa who grew up here. After spending many offseasons in Red Deer Welch decided to call the city his home while also addressing a major need.

“A friend of mine that’s in soccer just mentioned how indoor turf was needed at the time because of our long winters,” he said.

“As I was thinking about what I wanted to do after playing hockey I knew I wanted to stick around sports and work with athletes.”

Welch developed the knowledge of mindset and character development through his years of experience in sports but also from a lot of coaches he’s met along the way.

At The Dome, they develop athletes through a five-pillar system including technical, tactical, physical, mental, and character/lifestyle.

“In our first session, our goal in that is just to free athletes up to just go for it knowing they’re going to make mistakes,” he said.

He teaches them when they make that mistake how to deal with it both in that game and after using specific tools. In addition, they also learn how to give themselves the best advantages to perform well.

“We want our athletes to go out there and enjoy it, have fun, and perform well. When they don’t perform that’s part of being an athlete. There’s going to be days when you don’t perform well and we don’t want that to break our athletes,” he added.

“We want to take that and turn it into an advantage. We always say that failure is feedback.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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