I break down USA President Teddy Roosevelt's famous quote about daring greatly. I explain the importance of giving everything and understanding that winning is sometimes achieved even if an athlete loses. I also highlight that losing and failing is a natural process.
What is Mental Toughness? Jones and colleagues said THIS is what makes a mentally tough athlete:
1. having self-belief in one’s ability to achieve goals;
2. being able to recover from set backs and having an extra determination to succeed;
3. having a high amount of self belief that one has better abilities and more qualities than their opponents;
4. having a high amount of motivation and desire to succeed;
5. being fully-focused on the task even when there are distractions;
6. having the ability to regain psychological control following uncontrollable events;
7. having the ability to overcome emotional and physical pain;
8. being able to accept and cope with the anxiety experienced in competition;
9. thriving on pressure;
10. having the ability to not be affected by good or bad performances;
11. having the ability to remain fully focused even in the face of distraction;
12. the ability to switch the focus on your sport on and off.
Of course, this is all easy on paper. It takes training to be able to do it. That's my job!
Jones, G., & Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2002). What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology .. 14. 205-218. 10.1080/10413200290103509.
This morning in my class I asked my students to do a little experiment for me. They were instructed to stand on one leg with eyes closed and time how long they could stand upright.
Then, in a second trial, I used a brief imagery script in which I had them imagine themselves standing as a tree would stand, rooted solidly into the ground. A tree may sway in the wind, but it does not topple. It remains firm. With this imagery in mind, I instructed them to do the same activity again.
In the first trial my students averaged 41 seconds. In the second trial they averaged 76 seconds, an almost 100% improvement. What changed? A learning effect? Perhaps a small one, but in truth nothing changed other than their focus on the imagery I provided to them.
Now the image of a tree is used in yoga for the tree pose. But it's interesting that something so simple as providing an appropriate image can elicit significant improvements in performance. So why not consider using sport psychology to your benefit? If you're an athlete or coach, allow me to guide you in ensuring that your mental training is efficient and effective.
Brilliant poem by baseball pro and then umpire George Moriarty. Quoted by John Wooden in a TED Talk. #mentaltoughness #grit #perserverance
Want to get faster? Stop thinking about it! I explain how your brain can interfere with your ability to execute movements quickly.
Don't just hear it from me.
"You look at some of the top athletes, they've gone beyond controlling every single lifestyle factor - sleep, what passes their lips and goes into their bellies. Some of them are talking to sport psychologists just trying to get that one extra edge to visualize performance in order to maximize their abilities on the competition floor." Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness.
"I just remember getting back to the athlete area, to an empty room. And it just being like a devastating feeling. I wanted the Games to finish surrounded by friends and family, hugs, everyone happy, but it was the exact opposite. I finished it by myself in an empty room with nothing but disappointment." Mat Fraser 2nd Place, 2015 Crossfit Games
Do you get that same gut wrenching feeling when you don't achieve your goal? What are you going to do differently to avoid a repeat? At GOAT Sports Performance I analyze your strengths and weaknesses to build an individualized plan that takes you from being good to becoming your Greatest Of All Time. Contact me for more information. Photo by Rogue.
Here's my first vlog on the difference between tactics and strategy courtesy of 9-time grand slam champion Helen Jacobs, who wrote the book Tennis in 1941.
I was recently asked by an athlete how important the mental side of sports was to success. Was it more or less important than having the physical skills? Well, that’s kind of similar to asking whether peanut butter is more or less important than jelly in a PB&J sandwich. You can’t be successful without having both!
Here are two true story examples to illustrate. A few years ago, I had a young but enthusiastic player sign up for a tournament I ran. He was athletic and was very confident he would overcome any technical difficulties playing a more skilled opponent through his superior athletic ability. His confidence never wavered until he lost to his more skilled but much less fit opponent. Although his mental game did not fail him during the match (I might argue it did before he started), he lacked the skill to execute when it was necessary. He was very confident he would make the shot, but he couldn’t execute.
I had another friend who was also extremely athletic, and I thought he had an excellent chance at winning the division. Yet, to my astonishment, in his first game he swung and missed the ball seven consecutive times. He never recovered from that, fell apart with nerves, and came out of the course visibly shaking.
Based on these two stories, is physical skills or mental skills more necessary? Both right? I have many years of training in physical education, and an expectation of PE teachers is that they train students across three domains. The affective domain addresses ethics, behavior, and attitude. The psychomotor domain teaches physical skills and the cognitive domain teaches the mental skills necessary to be successful in sports and exercise. All three are necessary to develop a well-rounded sports participant.
What’s the point of this piece beyond the understanding that an athlete’s mental skills (cognitive) are just as important as their physical skills (psychomotor)? It’s this: why do so many train so much on their physical skills yet train so little on their mental skills? It makes no sense to train your body to perform at its best but ultimately under perform or fail completely because you didn’t train your mind.
Mental training is difficult for some athletes, coaches, parents, and sports organizations to believe in because the results are not always as obvious. You can’t always visually see progress like you can with physical skills. But don’t be arrogant enough to think that without mental training an athlete will ever achieve their potential. It’s why so many professional athletes and teams spend a significant amount of their time training minds to control body. Will you?
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