I talk a lot about the many ways that mental toughness techniques can be applied to the training of athletes in any sport in order to help them elevate their performance and reach their potential for excellence. But what kind of person do you end up with when all of these techniques are put into action? What can you expect as the result after all that hard work?
Here are 8 qualities of a mentally tough athlete:
- He is CALM UNDER PRESSURE, staying cool in the heat of competition. He might get a little nervous or excited before the action, but he is fully in control and does not allow this arousal to become a distraction when the performance begins.
- She is UNFAZED by the competition or the conditions in the arena. When a bigger, tougher, or faster competitor enters the field she does not falter or hesitate but instead has a “bring it on!” attitude and is even more motivated to do her best. Rain or shine, she brings her A game and is confident in her abilities.
- He has AMAZING POWERS OF CONCENTRATION, able to focus on what’s important and block out everything else. He does not allow thoughts about the past or the future, negative comments from fans or opponents, or fears of failure to get in the way of his concentration. He is easily able to stay fully present in the NOW.
- She possesses a competitive kind of TUNNEL VISION. Once that whistle blows or the clock starts she is LASER-FOCUSED only on the things that matter most in that moment, including the feel of her body, her breath going in and out, the relevant sights or sounds that enhance her ability to react quickly, physical awareness of her teammates or competitors, and connection to the arena, ball, balance beam, swim lane, or whatever other elements are crucial in the heat of the moment.
- He has a WINNING ATTITUDE. He always shows up to practice and games on time fully ready to do his best. He is supportive of his teammates and does what he can to help them succeed. He keeps his energy up and pushes to the limits even when a win seems out of reach. He listens to the coach and puts in extra practice hours to perfect a move. He remains positive and trains like a champion no matter what!
- She DOES THE WORK and has an OPEN MIND when it comes to learning. She does not tune out good advice when it seems inconvenient, and is always looking to learn from great teachers, successful athletes, and the experiences of the champions she admires. Even when she’s off the field, she reads or listens, watches videos, and does exercises to train her body and mind in becoming a stronger and smarter athlete.
- He is CONFIDENT and BELIEVES IN HIMSELF no matter what. He does not listen to the naysayers who try to put him down and tell him he’s no good, even if those negative messages are coming from an unhelpful coach or unsupportive parents or friends. He KNOWS he can do this and has no intention of giving up.
- Disappointments or setbacks DO NOT SHAKE HER BELIEF in her abilities and dreams. She is resilient and can rebound quickly from losses, upsets, or bad breaks. She knows that these are a normal part of competition and always seeks to use them as learning opportunities. She lets these things simply roll off her back and is quickly able to refocus on continuing her training, improving her skills, and performing better in the future.
What do you think of these qualities? How might they apply to what you need to work on next?