The More Precise the Sport, the Greater the Importance of Mental Toughness
People often ask me about mental toughness and how the field of sport psychology helps athletes reach their full athletic potential. The answer to this question, of course, is quite complex – but one aspect of how mental toughness impacts sports has to do with the type of sport you play. More simply, the more skilled and precise the sport movement(s), the greater the importance of mental toughness (or the ability to sharpen focus while minimizing anxiety).
While it is assumed that mental toughness plays a part in every sport, most experts would agree that sports with a high degree of fine motor skill movement (i.e. putting in golf) usually requires more focus and concentration than a gross motor skill movement (a lineman blocking in football). Most sports involve both fine and gross motor skills, but there is variance in the degree in which these skills are used (as seen by the example between golfers and football linemen).
Defining mental toughness in its own right can be tricky, but the general definition I use is the set of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills needed to perform an athletic skill at a high level. These skills include confidence development, focus, motivation, and resiliency to name a few. In order to improve on these skills you must first understand where your baseline is, which is the precise reason we created the world’s first sport psychology mental toughness app The Sport Performance Assessment (SPA). When athletes understand their current level of mental toughness and then focus on specific skills to improve in their areas of weakness, it is only then when peak performance can be reached. If you haven’t checked out the SPA app, I encourage you to do so to see how it might help your athletic potential.
All athletes should focus on improving mental toughness, but athletes who heavily rely on fine motor skills like golfers, gymnasts, and divers might want to spend even more time and effort mastering these skills.