5 Incredibly Important Tips to Improving Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is a mindset sport psychologists emphasize when helping athletes reach their full potential, but many people still wonder exactly what is ‘mental toughness?’ While definitions will vary from person to person, from a general sense mental toughness is developing the confidence to maintain focus, motivation, and confidence while controlling for negative anxiety. In essence, when athletes improve their mental toughness, their minds and bodies act in synchrony, their muscle memory allows for more automatic sport movements, and on-field mistakes are quickly forgotten.
Unfortunately, because of individual differences there isn’t one perfect mental toughness system that every athlete can use to gain maximum results, but there are still a core set of ideas and techniques that can help all athletes gain an overall improvement in their level of mental toughness.
- Buy in to mental toughness. In order for athletes to improve their mental toughness, they must first buy in to the idea that mental toughness plays a big part in sport success. Drilling deeper, this means athletes must immediately dismiss the idea that mental toughness training is for “losers” or people with mental illness, and instead look at it as simply an important part of athletic training — similar to developing strength in the weight room.
- Set intrinsically motivating goals. Intrinsic motivation is driven from personal values and interests, and not simply to please other people. It is important for athletes to understand why they play their sport, and what they want to accomplish while playing. By understanding intrinsic motivation athletes stay focused and motivated much longer than simply playing the sport to make others happy.
- Learn the value of focus. A great mental toughness skill is to be able to stay in the moment while competing and only focus on the next play. Unfortunately, focus often gets divided in sports, and too many times athletes continue to dwell on mistakes or missed opportunities, instead of staying in the moment and focusing on what they control moving forward.
- Find good mentors. A good mentor is someone who is supportive, objective, and honest. Good mentors are also teachers, and can play a big part when it comes to helping with confidence development, motivation, and strengthening resiliency.
- Accept adversity – galvanize resiliency. Every athlete will experience stress, adversity, frustration, and failure, making it that much more important that every athlete improve his or her resiliency.
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