Current State of Affairs
Sport is so valuable in the sense that it provides a way for athletes to not only hone their physical skills, but mental as well. As a whole, the sport culture gets behind the trait of mental toughness adamantly, with athletes that possess it often times serving as role models for their fellow teammates. Coaches can often be heard yelling at their players during conditioning sessions or close games that they need to be more mentally tough.
But is it a switch that we can simply turn off and on?
Perhaps…if we know what to work on.
Every coach wants a mentally tough team, but simply saying the words “let’s get mentally tough out there today” will often lead to confusion from athletes without the proper approach. Unlike talent or physical prowess, mental toughness can be cultivated with nearly limitless potential. In fact, the ceiling is only limited by how hard an athlete is willing to work at this trait, or how educated an athlete’s coach may be on the subject. A coach will hardly ever have a team full of All Amercian physical specimens, as genetics play a large role in that scenario, but they could have a team full of athletes with indomitable minds, who push every single day to get the most out of themselves, and in return, will not fear those they line up against in competition, no matter what the talent gap may be.
Today, coaches preach mental toughness, but the vast majority do not have a consistent, efficient way to introduce the concept to their athletes. More importantly, once the concept has been introduced, coaches must be able to cultivate their team’s mental toughness to whatever lengths their athletes are willing to take their training toward.
To get the most out of your team as a coach, or yourself as an athlete, a proper mental regimen should be put into place, one that progresses and motivates, resulting in a culture or individual mindset that can gain steam throughout a season, and peak when you most need it (usually tournament season.) Without a mental regimen, which should be given just as much attention as the physical, inconsistency may abound.
The ideal scenario
Imagine this as a coach:
Your athletes show up to practice with a consistent desire to get better. The idea of a challenging practice, whether it be repeat sprints for conditioning or heavy squats for strength gains, no longer intimidates them. Now they see these admittedly uncomfortable scenarios as a necessary and crucial opportunities to get better. Attendance improves, as practice becomes a privilege to better one’s self, as opposed to punishment and pain that some would prefer to avoid or just survive, avoiding any discomfort and coasting by. The culture stokes its own fire, to the point to where you as a coach simply instruct your athletes what to do on a given, as they now have bought in fully to what you have preached and can now push themselves. Each day they become a little more confident, each day they come back a little hungrier, because you are training more than their bodies…you are training their minds to handle more and more, and become excited about the process!
Imagine this an athlete:
You line up before the big game. You have heard about how tough your competition may be, they are better than you on paper, everyone has let you know about that fact up to this point. But that doesn’t bother you. You have a secret weapon. Yes, you’ve put in the reps on the field, court, weightroom, or track, as have your opponents, but you have trained something they haven’t: your mind. You are mentally tough, a “muscle” that cannot be seen, but your opponents will recognize it soon enough. You do not break, you do not fear, you do not second guess yourself, because you have practiced the good habits that come with mental toughness all season long. You will get the most out of yourself on this given day, which is all you can ask for, the pressure won’t get to you…but it may get to your opponents. Preparation and mindset can beat superior talent, and with that in mind, you can go into your big moment with confidence that have the mind and body on the same wavelength, primed and peaked to work in unison to give you a performance to remember.
Mental toughness can be cultivated, and can change the turn of the tides…it is important that you know how to cultivate this secret weapon.
Boost solves this by
- Training mental preparation just as much as physical
- Teaching mental toughness as a skill
- Teaching the mindsets behind mental toughness
- Giving exercises to incorporate mental toughness in game