Basics of Mental Skills (What & Why)

What are mental skills?  I am actually asked that a lot by a variety of people.  Teachers, coaches, supervisors, parents all have their own thoughts on what mental skills are and each group or person has their own idea of what mental skills you need…and they are ALL different!  Mental skills are the foundation of successful learning and performance so the list may be long, plus it would vary on what mental skills you need when you are learning and/or performing.  Boy is this getting complicated!  It really does depend on the task.

Mental skills are those cognitive and psychological skills needed in life.  According to critical thinkers each person has within their existence an ideal state of mind in which to operate successfully.  You have to evaluate your self, how you operate, and the things that you need to help you perform at an optimal level.  However it is not always easy to consistently be your best.  Proper development and preparation of mental skills is needed.

Being at your full potential on a consistent basis is what optimal performance is all about.  Finding that ideal state to perform consistently is not always easy and sometimes you don’t even know how you did what you did.

Everyone’s best requires different mental skills and every skill from sport, business, and life requires a variety of different mental skills and at differing levels.  Preparation of mental skills involves learning a variety of skills from developing the appropriate internal climate to developing a positive spirit.  The most important thing is to develop these skills properly and plan strategies to use them.

So, back to the original question, ‘What are mental skills?’  Mental skills include concepts of attentional focus, goal setting, self-perception, attitude, motivation, people skills, mental imagery, self-talk, managing emotions, the list can go on.  Mental skills are really anything cognitive that effects your ability to give your optimal performance in order to be successful.

I once listened to a collegiate coach talking about a player and stating "he just isn't mentally tough."  I asked the coach what he did to improve the player's mental toughness.  His response was interesting to say the least.  He stated "well he should have learned mental toughness in high school."  That just left me baffled.  I know coaches who believe that mental toughness and mental skills are developed through physical workouts, as in the harder you push and drive someone the tougher they become mentally.  That just causes me to go hmmmm.  So if pushing me physically develops me mentally wouldn't the opposite be true.  Let me just think about having big muscles and yep there they are....NOT!

Mental skills are developed through learning proper techniques and practicing and implementing the skills, just like all those physical workouts do for the body...proper learning of techniques, proper practice of techniques, leads to proper implementation of learned techniques and that all contributes to success.  The same holds true for your mental skills....proper learning and proper practice yields proper implementation which contributes to success in sport, business, workplace, and life.

Proper mental skills training develops proper mental toughness.  Being punished and pushed to work harder physically just makes you tired and angry physically and mentally.  Understanding your mental skills and how you use them to hinder or enhance performance leads to making a change mentally to incorporate strategies which enhance performance then develops mental toughness. A high level of being able to utilize mental skills to your advantage both on and off the field just doesn't happen.  It comes with proper training, practice, and implementation.

In our 10-Lesson Boost Boot Camp you will examine and learn about your self-perception, about your self-talk and whether it hurts or helps you, about your ability to focus and concentrate, about your attitude in relationship to detriment and success.  You learn how to use strategies to develop a successful goal setting program and you learn to assess your commitment to reaching that goal.  You examine and learn about your ability to handle emotions and what fear and anger do in your daily life.  You will become a more competent YOU, a more self-aware and self-managed YOU!  A more situationally aware YOU!  A mentally tougher YOU.  The Boot Camp lessons will help you to develop and enhance your Emotional Intelligence, Cognitive Fitness, and Mental Skills to develop a better, more successful YOU!

Mindfulness helps us to increase our ability to regulate emotions, decrease stress, anxiety and depression.  It can also help us to focus our attention, as well as to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment. The world we live in can be very demanding and stressful on our minds.  The ability to be mindful helps you become more responsive and at peace with yourself and others.

Key Objectives:

  • Learn how to be present, confident and in control of your thoughts and actions
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve decision making