There are many different sport psychology theories to consider when examining the best ways to train and develop mental toughness. In an ideal condition, athletes develop training programs that allow for the greatest levels of motivation and achievement, while simultaneously controlling for fatigue, staleness, and sports burnout. When examining this question, the “answer” regarding a perfect training program might not be clear, but what is more understandable might be what not to do.
For example, we know that continuously going as hard as you can will almost certainly lead to both emotional and physical body breakdowns. Admittedly, operationally defining terms like “hard”can be very difficult, and will vary from athlete to athlete. Still, simply knowing that ongoing intense training will almost always end up with some unwanted consequences is good information to have if you are an athlete.
Training smart, therefore, occurs when athletes vary routines, take regular breaks, and engage in activities they find fun to do. It also helps to have specific goals written down that will provide future targets to hit, as well as allow for ongoing measurement toward goals. Keeping a journal is yet another important thing to consider, as this allows for note-taking along the way toward goal attainment.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for athletes when it comes to avoiding sports burnout and maximizing sports training is to embrace the idea of “working smarter, not harder” and accepting that there is a threshold for all athletes where healthy training can turn into unhealthy sports burnout (and below-average performances, too). Athletes who develop conviction toward a sports training model that regularly allows for healthy downtime stand the best chance to control for burnout — but this is sometimes easier to suggest than to do.
If you are a serious athlete it’s important that you work smarter, not harder — get your leg up on the competition by picking up this invaluable resource today!