The four key factors that all athletes should learn to become mentally strong.
Pushing your body to perform and compete requires more than physical effort. Whether you’re training to get recruited or just trying to get in shape, establishing a game plan is easy, but sticking to one is anything but. When the initial excitement and drive wears off, how will you stay motivated? What happens when you’d rather sleep in than go to the gym? Are you prepared to be uncomfortable? Really uncomfortable? How will you react when adversity inevitably strikes? Take yourself to another level by strengthening your mind as well as your body.
Mental challenges can, and will, present themselves along your athletic journey, threatening to take the joy out of the experience. That’s why it is so important to elevate your mental game as much as your athletic game. There are four key factors that all athletes should learn to become mentally strong.
- Embrace the Pressure
Anyone that has competed at a high level knows that pressure is always around us. But when the pressure reaches its peak, how do you react? Finding comfort in pressure only happens when we put ourselves in high-pressure situations. As you continue to grow your athletic level, you will begin to face greater and greater competition; which naturally will bring along greater pressure. The more often you face greater challenges, the more comfortable you will be in those pressure environments.
- Manage Internal and External Distractions to Stay Focused
If you’ve ever watched horse racing, you likely would have noticed that racehorses have binders covering their eyes. These blinders eliminate their peripheral vision and only allow them to see what is directly in front of them. You must learn to create your own “blinders” in life, to cut out the distractions, and stay focused on your goals in front of you.
- Set Mental Objectives to Complement Physical Ones
So many top tier athletes will spend 2, 3, 4, 5 hours at a time practicing and training in their sport. But how many people are willing to dedicate the same amount of time to their mental training. Actions like increased hours of sleep, mediation, and daily planning/ goal setting are actions that you can take off the field that will directly affect your performance on the field.
- Improve Your Self-Confidence
If you’re good at what you do, no matter what it is, you will oftentimes have a pretty good level of self-confidence. But what happens when you experience losses and adversity? Would you still feel as confident in yourself even if you weren't as good at what you do? One of the great constants in life is that we all inevitably fail. Williams, Jeter, and Brady; along with being synonymous with winning, they also have common traits in failure. But their confidence in their abilities never waivers. You must improve your self-confidence to rely on your ability and dedication, not on your end results.
There are so many factors that go into becoming a high-performance athlete, and mental strength is a major factor. There are amazing tools that anyone could use to increase their mental strength. Apps like Headspace are great for bettering yourself with meditation and visualization. Books like Atomic Habits by James Clear give great detail on how to create daily tools to enhance your successes. And finally, we know it can be challenging to create a plan on your own. At USP, we advise our clients not only on how to improve themselves athletically and academically but mentally as well. If you feel that you need extra help in any aspect of your college recruitment process, give us a call at (305) 554-1124 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org