How mental skills used by Kieran Read can help your club or school rugby side

An experienced mental skills coach has launched a rugby podcast featuring some of the biggest names in the sport talking about how they deal with pressure and adversity on and off the rugby field. 

Mark Zimmerman runs On The Mark Coaching and currently sponsors the Manly Marlins and the Sydney Junior Rugby Union. 

He’s also working with rugby teams at all levels and interviewed former All Blacks captain Kieran Reid in his first podcast. 

“I’ve created a program called the MPT method of rugby mental skills,” Zimmerman told Rugby News. 

"It covers how we coach mental skills to rugby coaches and players from a grassroots level, in junior clubs, at first XV level and in clubland, right through to professional rugby. 

“With the MPT method, we help people to understand the mental side of the game. Not only mental wellness and mental health, but also the mental skills that are required to compete at any level.”

While mental skills coaching is now a core part of most professional rugby programs, Zimmerman said those same skills can help rugby players at all levels on the field, in their everyday lives and in their professional careers. 

"At all different age groups and competency levels, the mental skills required are similar. Some people struggle with self doubt, others listen to the wrong inner voice, some struggle to bounce back from a mistake,” Zimmerman explained. 

“One tool we use is to throw mistakes into a bucket. We don’t allow ourselves to spend more than two minutes dwelling on anything, otherwise you are constantly looking behind you and you start to go backwards. 

“There are about 10 mental skills that we coach that make up the core of the program. Then as players get older and more professional, we then dive deeper into it from there to cover managing anxiety and stress.”

Zimmerman launched the podcast to help increase awareness of the importance of mental wellness within the wider rugby community and said it would be a perfect listen for families in the car on their way to rugby matches around Australia each week. 

“We want to help explain to people why mindset is so important in sport and in life. It’s the software that enables the hardware to do its job,” he said. 

“I had Kieran Reid on our first episode and he spoke about losing to England in the World Cup semi final in 2019 in what was his final game for the All Blacks. At the time, he said he felt like his world had ended.

“The podcast doesn’t talk about the heroic moments, it focusses on the tough times and we talk about the mental skills that different individuals use to help them get through moments like that. 

“I’ve also recently spoken to Ben Donaldson and he spoke about his experiences with the Wallabies through last year’s World Cup.”

The first episode of On The Mark: All Things Rugby, Life & Mindset with Kieran Reid is available on all major podcast platforms and via the link below.

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