Sustaining high sporting performance requires more than simply putting in time at the gym, or on the field, every single day; it’s just as much about maintaining a high level of mental toughness. Psychological studies continue to show just how important a developed, or natural, psychological edge is when it comes to sports performance. It is imperative athletes develop and receive support for the following key components to mental toughness:
1. Believing In One’s Self
One of the toughest obstacles that athletes in every sport face is negative and self deprecating thought patterns. A missed goal or a loss of points can quickly undermine an athletes belief in his or her abilities, which has a negative impact on how well they perform. By having a strong self belief, an athlete won’t be so easily shaken when they do face a difficult situation. He or she will maintain a secure trust in the unique abilities and qualities they possess that they believe make them better than their opponent.
Improvement Tip: Keeping a training log will provide an athlete with evidence on how they’ve improved over the days, months and years of training.
2. Maintaining Focus
There are so many factors that can affect an athlete’s focus, from a roaring crowd, to the performance of other athletes, to their very own “self talk” or internal voice. It’s key for an athlete to be able to regain focus as quickly as possible when they find themselves distracted or when an unexpected event occurs.
Improvement Tip: Positive self talk as well as verbal, physical and visual prompts and queues will help athletes control their focus.
3. Conquering Pain
Every athlete is confronted with some sort of mental or physical challenge at some point in their career. In order for an athlete to grow and improve, he or she needs to be able to push through any painful barriers that may potentially block his or her success. This mental toughness also goes a long way to helping athletes overcome any feelings of failure.
Improvement Tip: Creating opportunities for athletes to work for longer or harder in a secure environment will help them build both mental and physical endurance.
4. Dealing With Pressure
Pressure plays a role in any sporting performance, as each sport involves some level of competition. Fortunately, pressure can be utilised in a way that will allow an athlete to thrive and use it to their advantage against the competition (i.e. use it as motivation).
Improvement Tip: Getting into a performance routine will bring a sense of familiarity, which will help an athlete stay calm and focused at an event.
Tags: Conquering Pain, Dealing With Pressure, Maintaining Focus, mental coaching, mental fitness, mental game, mental performance, mental preparation for athletes, mental skills, mental training, self belief