Mental Strength Training
One of the highest compliments an athlete can get is the label "mentally tough." Mental toughness isn’t a quality people are born with. Rather, it includes a set of learned attitudes and ways of viewing competitive situations in productive ways.
What are some of the areas covered in the mental strength training program? It all depends on the athlete and their current situation; however, many of the factors that go into building an effective program are explained below.
Click here to see what the flow could look like for a Mental Performance Program.
Motivation & Goals
Motivation that comes from within is known as intrinsic motivation. In general terms, it is seen by psychologists as the most powerful form of motivation as it relates to doing something for pure enjoyment or as an end in itself.
Motivation that is external to the individual is known as extrinsic motivation. Examples of extrinsic motivation include winning money or medals, approval of others, or obtaining fame and glory.
How are you motivated?
Generally speaking, if athletes attribute their performance outcomes to things they can control, such as work rate, training and attitude, then motivation will be enhanced. It is important that athletes see success or failure as largely due to factors within their control.
Goal setting is the process of setting clear objectives. These objectives describe an outcome to be achieved and, importantly, identify the stepping stones on the road to achievement. To be effective, goals should reflect challenging targets but ones that are within reach of the athlete. A detailed analysis of current performance acts as a baseline for assessing future progress.
Anxiety & Self Confidence
The combination of stress and uncertainty provides an experience that can be positive or negative. Some athletes will thrive on the challenge of uncertainty whereas others will be anxious and overly worried. In the latter instance, all manner of doubts and negative thoughts can creep in.
Managing anxiety effectively requires consideration of three key components prior to introducing coping strategies:
(1) Do I understand what is making me anxious?; (2) Do I recognize how anxiety manifests in my brain and body – what it looks and feels like for me?; and (3) Do I take responsibility for the fact that I have the ability to control it?
Self-confidence in sport can be defined as the sureness of feeling equal to the task, a sureness that is usually characterized by absolute belief in sporting ability.
In addition, self-confidence in sport can be thought of as multidimensional, consisting of confidence about:
Ability to execute physical skills, psychological skills, and perceptual skills.
Current physical fitness and training status.
Potential to learn new skills
What happens when you lose confidence? Understanding the causes of low confidence is the first step in rebuilding it.
Concentration should be thought of as the process of controlling attention so that all thoughts and senses are focused on the task in hand at the expense of other things that might be competing for your attention.
In sport, an important step in mastering the art of concentration is to understand the different dimensions of attention. An important fact to remember is that attention involves selectivity of sensory inputs.
Often feeling distracted when you need to be focused? Spend some time identifying the things that are indispensable to performance and those that are potential distractions. Think about key details that are central to performance and distractions that can divert attention.
Attentional processes can be be quite complex and it is not helpful to think of concentration as something that just comes and goes. The process of controlling the direction, width and selectivity of attention lies at the heart of skilled action in sports performance.
At the end of the day concentration is central to performance. There are a multitude of methods that can be used to help an athlete hone their attention and improve their performance.