What is mental toughness? All athletes are looking to develop mental toughness. Along with confidence, mental toughness is one of the biggest areas of sport psychology that athletes are interested in developing or attaining more of. So what exactly is mental toughness? Everyone will generally have a different definition and it usually goes along with an area in which the athlete is struggling with. If an athlete is struggling with pushing through their physical limits and not letting down when they get tired, they usually think mental toughness is about being able to push through. There are several skills for mental toughness to exist. Over the next few weeks we will go over each of these skills. The first is confidence.
Confidence is the most important mental skill for mental toughness. Confidence impacts all the other skills, without confidence and the belief one must have in themselves other skills such as motivation, and focus are unable to fully be displayed. Confidence occurs when we fully trust ourselves and believe in ourselves. Many people focus on the confidence part, and wanting to feel more confident, but the trust part is even more important as without trust we can not have confidence. So think about if you trust yourself? When we fully trust ourselves we take risks, we know that we can overcome anything, and thus we take more chances, and know that no matter what will happen we can get through it. We bounce back from mistakes quicker and move on to what is next. Often when we think of trust it is very generalized, and can make it harder to know how to grow trust in ourselves or know what we are doing that is breaking our trust in ourselves.
So lets break down what trust looks like. There are a number of components to it, and we are going to look at just a couple of them to illustrate trust. The first is boundaries. Boundaries are limits we set for ourselves and others, such as what types of behaviors are appropriate. If we have boundaries that we don’t stick to or make others respect we chip away at our trust and therefore our confidence. Many times the trust we need to perform at a high level is broken or gained away from our sport, and it is important to know that by doing little things in everyday life, confidence can be built. Another aspect of trust is reliability, doing what you say you will do and continually doing so over an extended period of time. Many athletes want to be more consistent in their performance. More reliable. One of the ways we do this is by being more reliable in everyday life. If you say you are going to do something do it. If you can’t be reliable with little things in life, how will you trust yourself to be reliable in a big moment? Think of daily living as practice, every time you practice how you want to be while performing the better you become and the more likely it is you will be able to perform in that moment.