How often do you train your mind for sports? Most athletes focus on the technical and tactical elements of their sports. Eventually however, all athletes reach a time in their sports career where they either decide or are forced to look at the mental aspects of their performance. I have had a few individuals over the last 6 month to a year who have sought me out not because anything is really wrong or going bad with their performance but they understand that there is more they could do, and know that the mental components are apart of their performance and don’t want to let not looking at it or training their mind to stop them from reaching their highest level.
Too often I get clients who are striving for something and only come to see me once things are really going bad, and then they come in right before a major competition. This creates a lot of stress for that individual because they are trying to change things so quickly. Change requires time, and so for those who understand this and want to not only be the best physically but also on the mental side, are the ones who reach the top of their sport. I just recently had a client who I have been working with for a year, qualify for worlds. She was not expected to even make it because she is still an amateur in her sport, and usually only the pros make the cut. However, she has been consistent not only in her physical practice but also been working on her mental side, and it paid off for her. If she had come to see me right before nationals it wouldn’t have had the same positive impact for her.
It is said that for many athletes once they have reached the top of their sport physically, if they have not done any work on the mental side, it can take up to 3 years for them to get close to matching their mental and physical skill set. I would say it could take even longer. The mind is tricky and not the easiest thing at times to train, it takes a lot of persistence and dedication to know that even when you are not seeing immediate results the work you are doing will pay off in the long run. Most of the time athletes will look to their physical skill set to change something or improve when things are not going well, because it is easier to see what you are changing. The mind is intangible, you can’t always see what you are changing or training. You can feel it, but most people want to be able to have a tangible thing they can see changing, that is why training the mind requires patience and discipline on a level many people are not willing to put in.
This it was separates the good athletes from the great athletes. To quote Julie Foucher (Pro Crossfit athlete) ” I think mental strengths are the difference between being an above-average athlete and being games-level. Physical strengths are important to a point, but once you get to the Games, I think it’s completely mental strength that determines your final performance.”
So think about how often and how much time you spend on the physical aspects of your performance. Now think about how often and how much time you spend learning about your mind, and training it to get the most out of yourself? I’m guessing there is a pretty big difference? If sport psychology is new to you I recommend you picking up my book Get Into the Zone: The Essential Guide to High Performance through Mental Training. It is a great starting point for learning what training the mind is all about and some starting points on where to begin.
To your success,