While you might not be the biggest, fastest, or strongest athlete on the field, there are two very important mental toughness skills that every athlete can learn and master — outworking the competition and developing resiliency skills to bounce back from adversity. These two mental mindsets, in my opinion, may be the most influential factors when it comes to maximizing human performance and leveling the playing field against other athletes with more natural talents and abilities.
Of course, developing a strong work ethic and galvanizing resiliency to ward off stress, adversity, and failure are not easy skills to master, but if you want to be the best I believe it is impossible to do so without beginning here.
1.) Hard work. This means being the first to practice and the last to leave, and finding the intrinsic motivation needed to give 100% effort everyday. Putting in the work also requires attending voluntary practices, and going out on your own to improve your cardio, strength, and mastery of the skills pertaining to your position. Again, you don’t need any special physical advantages in life to do these things, only the will to be better than your competition. Improve in this area by becoming invested in your training, setting personal goals, and journaling your progress along the way.
2.) Resiliency. In order to become the best athlete you can become you must accept that stress, frustration, adversity, and failure happen to everyone in life — but the great athletes are the ones who developing coping skills to learn from tough experiences. Again, every athlete can improve in resiliency, even those athletes who are not physically gifted. You can develop your resiliency by being realistic about stress and failure (and eliminating perfectionism), and learning healthy and effective ways to cope with stress.
Outworking the competition and learning how to use adversity in healthy and productive ways are qualities regularly found in champions. Fortunately, every young athlete can learn these skills, and by committing to them they will quickly see their game accelerate. Conversely, athletes who bypass working hard and handling adversity will usually fall short of what they are capable of accomplishing, regardless of their natural abilities.