Possessing all the physical skills needed for athletic competition doesn’t guarantee success on the playing field. For this, you also need to have mental toughness as well as motivation and drive. The psychological aspects of sport are so important to the game that in some cases, this can help certain athletes compensate for a lack of natural ability and strength. Mental toughness and the psychological aspects of sport and fitness training will allow you to keep on pushing and overcome every obstacle you come across.
Mental toughness can usually be defined as the ability to maintain focus and determination. It means perseverance, no matter the obstacles. According to performance enhancement coach Jason Ferruggia, “Mental toughness is usually something you’re born with or develop very early in life due to your surroundings.” However, athletes can always improve their tolerance and concentration with training!
The roots of mental toughness can be found in motivation. People who are known as being mentally tough possess something what sports psychologists refer to as intrinsic motivation. These people are self starters and are more than willing to push themselves physically for their sport. They rarely need to be encouraged to give it their maximum effort and often set goals for themselves.
Many athletes like to compare themselves with others and are spurred on by achievement motivation. If two competitors possess equal skills, the athlete with more achievement motivation will usually be more successful because they have a greater desire. Believing that results will be achieved if they work hard is a key ingredient to this, even if they’re unsure of success.
If you understand the difference between these types of motivation you can train yourself to become more mentally tough. If you’re motivated by success you will be more prepared to do what ever it takes. The world’s top athletes have trained their minds to be as strong and tough as their bodies.
One of the keys to obtaining mental toughness is to be positive. For example, if you think you can’t score a goal from 30 yards out during a soccer game then the chances are you won’t. You can stay positive by creating a type of mission statement which will remind you exactly why you’re participating is a sport or performing a training routine. Remember what your goal is and the reason you’re doing it. If you ever feel yourself lacking motivation or wanting to quit you should repeat your mission statement to yourself.
Talking to yourself during physical activity can keep you motivated and driven when the going gets tough. By visualizing what you have to do in your mind; it will be easier for your body to achieve it. If you’re mentally prepared to handle anything then your body should be able to handle anything as well. Also, if you have a solution in mind for any obstacles that may arise then you’ll be better prepared to handle them.
As Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., who is a triathlete and strength and conditioning points out, “Knowing you have done everything possible to get to your goal will help you mentally. When it comes to the event you are training for, you can go into it with peace of mind. Once you have that, you’ll be surprised by just how far you can go.”
Thanks for reading,
Cameron is the Director of Pro Training Programs