Mental Training and Mindset Training

The terms “mental training” and “mindset training” are often used interchangeably in psychology and coaching, but they do have subtle differences, especially in how they’re applied in contexts like sports.



Mental Training

This typically refers to a broader range of techniques and practices aimed at developing mental skills and abilities. It can include things like improving concentration, managing stress, enhancing memory, and fostering problem-solving skills. In your role as a handball coach or a handball goalkeeper coach, you might already be familiar with aspects of mental training, such as visualization techniques or focus exercises to enhance performance under pressure. Mental training is about equipping an individual with tools and strategies to handle a variety of mental challenges.


Mindset Training

This is more specific and is usually centered around cultivating a particular type of mindset. For example, fostering a growth mindset (believing abilities and intelligence can be developed) as opposed to a fixed mindset (believing abilities are innate and unchangeable). Mindset training often involves changing how one views challenges, failures, and personal growth.


In practice, both mental and mindset training overlap significantly. They both aim to strengthen mental resilience and improve overall psychological well-being. Mental training provides the techniques to handle various mental tasks and challenges, while mindset training can reshape the foundational attitudes and beliefs that influence how these techniques are applied and how challenges are approached.


The Key Differences Between Mental Training and Mindset Training in Handball

In handball, as in many sports, both mental training and mindset training are crucial for optimal performance, but they serve slightly different purposes.

The distinction between mental training and mindset training in handball becomes quite nuanced, reflecting the specific demands and psychological aspects of the sport. Here are some of the key differences:



Mental Training in Handball

Vanja Radic Coaching - Mental Training

This involves specific techniques and exercises aimed at improving cognitive and emotional skills that are essential for handball players. It’s about developing and enhancing specific mental skills that are directly applicable to the game. Key aspects include:

  1. Focus and Concentration: Training goalkeepers and players to stay focused during intense moments, ignoring distractions, and maintaining attention on the game. Training players to maintain strong focus during matches and not get distracted by the crowd, opponents, or their own internal pressure.
  2. Stress and Anxiety Management: Techniques to handle pre-game nervousness, the pressure of competition, stress during crucial moments in a game.
  3. Visualization and Imagery (Mental Rehearsal): Practicing game scenarios in the mind, visualizing successful outcomes, which helps in strategizing and improving reaction times.
  4. Decision Making Skills: Improving cognitive abilities to make quick, effective and accurate decisions during fast-paced game situations.
  5. Emotional Regulation: Techniques to manage emotions like frustration, excitement, or disappointment during matches.


These skills are crucial for handball goalkeepers (and players) to perform consistently under various pressures and dynamic conditions of the game.

As a handball coach, or a handball goalkeeper coach, hopefully you are already incorporating some of these aspects in your coaching. But if you are not yet – then you should definitely start educating yourself more about these topics and you should start incorporating them in your coaching.



Mindset Training in Handball

This focuses on the overall mental approach, attitudes, and beliefs that a player brings to the sport. It includes:

  1. Growth Mindset: Encouraging players to view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than threats to their abilities or self-esteem.
  2. Resilience: Building the mental toughness to bounce back from setbacks, like a missed save, wrong movement in front of the goal, or a lost game.
  3. Team Mindset: Fostering a sense of team spirit and collective goal, which is crucial in team sports like handball. A goalkeeper position is the only playing position in handball which has a role of an individual athlete within a team sport.
  4. Self-belief and Confidence: Cultivating a strong belief in personal and team abilities, it’s essential for maintaining a positive self-image, high morale and high-performance levels.
  5. Handling Pressure and Expectations: Training to maintain composure and optimal performance under the pressures of competition and high expectations. Coaching and teaching players to thrive under pressure and view high-stakes situations as opportunities to excel.


This type of training shapes how players approach the game mentally, influencing their long-term development, motivation, and how they deal with successes and failures.

Both mental and mindset training are essential in handball, as they complement each other. Understanding these distinctions and applying them in your coaching work can be invaluable.

While mental training equips players with immediate, tangible skills to enhance their in-game performance, mindset training builds the foundational psychological attributes that determine how these skills are utilized and developed over time.

Mental training provides the tools and techniques specific to the demands of handball, while mindset training shapes the overall psychological foundation that influences how players perceive themselves, their abilities, and their approach to the sport.

Integrating both mental and mindset training can lead to a holistic development of goalkeepers (and players), enhancing not just their performance in handball but also their personal growth and resilience in various aspects of life.

When I work with my athletes – I never only want to improve their athletic performance in their chosen sport, but also the quality of their life in every aspect. This is what gives a full meaning and purpose to the profession of a coach.


The Main Differences Between Mental Training and Mindset Training

Scope – Mental training is broader, encompassing various psychological skills across different contexts. Mindset training is more focused on cultivating a specific attitude towards challenges, effort, and improvement.

Application – Mental training includes techniques that can be applied to specific performance situations (e.g., visualization for a particular event). Mindset training involves more generalized principles that affect how an athlete approaches their entire sporting career and life.

Objective – The primary objective of mental training is to enhance performance by improving psychological functions. Mindset training aims to foster a psychological framework that supports long-term development, well-being, and resilience.


Overlap and Integration

Despite these differences, there’s a significant overlap. For example, techniques like positive self-talk can be used both to improve immediate performance and to cultivate a more resilient and growth-oriented mindset over time. The distinction often comes down to the intent behind the use of each technique and the long-term objectives of the training program.

In practice, a comprehensive approach to athlete development will integrate both mental and mindset training, recognizing that immediate performance enhancements and long-term psychological growth are interconnected aspects of athletic success.




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All content (such as text, data, graphics files, images, illustrations, videos, sound files), and all other materials contained in are copyrighted unless otherwise noted and are the property of Vanja Radic Coaching. If you want to cite or use any part of the content from my website, you need to get the permission first, so please contact me for that matter.