Should I Train My Mindset as an Athlete?
As an athlete, you need to train. It is the only way to develop the skills you need to succeed within your sport.
Now what you train and how you train is going to vary depending on your sport...at least on the physical side.
But when it comes to your mindset, this is something all athletes need to be training, no matter what sport you play or your skill level.
And so, in this article, you're going to learn why you should train your mindset as an athlete, along with a way you can begin strengthening your mental game.
What is Mindset Training?
Now, before we get into why you should train your mindset, it's a good idea to get a clear understanding of what mindset training is in the first place.
Training your physical skills is pretty straight forward. Plus, it feels a lot more like training than mental training does at times. But the same principles that apply to physical training apply to mindset training.
Mindset training in athletes involves using specific tools and techniques to develop mental skills. These mental skills make up the mindset you want as an athlete.
But let's backtrack for a second...what kinds of tools and techniques are used to train your mindset? Well, these are going to be sports psychology tools and techniques.
There are exercises and activities you can do that work to build your confidence, or calm your nerves, just as there are exercises you can do to improve your jump shot, or run faster.
Here are a few of the main mindset training tools and techniques athletes can use:
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Setting Performance Objectives
- Post Game Evaluation
- Self-Reflective Writing
- Breath Work
There are many more tools and exercises I use when working one-on-one with an athlete, but those are the main ones and the ones that are the simplest for you to begin using on your own.
Developing Mental Skills
The tools and techniques I just outlined are helpful because of the mental skills they work to develop. It is through the development of mental skills that you build a strong mindset as an athlete.
There are many working parts that all come together to give you the mindset you want on game day.
This is really where the benefits start to come into play.
By making use of mindset training, you work to build positive mental skills. These mental skills then have a directly positive impact on your game.
For example, visualization helps increase confidence. By visualizing, your trust and self-belief will grow. And the more confidence you have, the more freely (and often better) you will perform.
Here are the main mental skills you'll want to focus on building with mindset training:
- Managing Pressure
- Resilience (bouncing back from mistakes)
- Calming Your Nerves
Benefits of Mindset Training for Athletes
When you begin using mindset training tools and techniques, your mental skills will grow. And as your skills grow and improve, there are many benefits you will experience within your game.
These benefits are the main reasons you should train your mindset as an athlete.
You'll Play More Freely & Naturally
When your confidence grows and you learn how to calm your nerves more, you will find yourself playing more freely and naturally.
This can be a huge difference for you if you've found yourself playing better in practices than games, because you're tense and rigid during games.
Whether it's because of fear of failure, performance anxiety, or anything else, when you play tense, rigid, and even timidly, you will underperform.
Gaining the ability to play more freely and naturally (so like you do when no one's watching) is a game changer.
There was a young basketball player I worked with who experienced this for himself. When we first began working together, he played poorly in games and held himself back. He was so frustrated he couldn't play freely like during pick-up.
But through mindset training, he grew to be able to perform freely and naturally, even in the most pressure-filled situations.
You'll Stop Holding Yourself Back
This is a big thing I see in athletes...they are the very ones holding themselves back. And to be honest, this is how I was a lot when playing.
Now, when I say you're holding yourself back, what I mean is there are certain ways of thinking and feeling that are keeping you from playing your best.
These could be fears about the outcome, worries about what other people are thinking of you, or demands you place on yourself to perform perfectly.
All three of those, plus many others, are known as mental blocks. Mental blocks are ways of thinking that hold you back.
But when you train your mindset as an athlete, you build the mental skills that work against these mental blocks. Helping you get out of your own way and performing up to your potential during competition.
You'll Increase Your Enjoyment
Wherever you get your enjoyment from in your sport, as long as it's not from underperforming, it will be increased when you begin mindset training.
I've worked with many athletes who've lost the passion to play. On rare occasions, it was just time for them to move on from their sport. But for most of them, something was keeping them from enjoying the game...mental blocks.
Just like mental blocks hold you back, they can also strip away joy from playing.
If you show up each day full of fear and anxiety, how much fun do you think you're going to have? If you've been experiencing this recently, then you know the answer...not much fun at all.
By training your mindset, mental blocks are reduced, and the game becomes more fun.
In addition, mindset training also promotes a healthier mind. And when your mind is in a healthier state,it's going to be easier for you to enjoy yourself.
And lastly, when you train your mindset as an athlete, a lot of times your performance level increases. And who doesn't enjoy playing well?
How to Start Training Your Mindset as an Athlete
If you're ready to take your game to the next level and begin training your mindset, there are a few ways you can do so.
Mental Training Advantage is perfect for athletes ages 14 and older, while The Mentally Tough Kid is perfect for athletes ages 9-13.
Both courses show you how to build stronger mental skills using guided exercises and easy to apply strategies.
Lastly, there's one-on-one mental coaching. With mental coaching, I will work directly with you to identify your mental blocks, and come up with a strategy to build mental skills.
To learn more about mental performance coaching, please fill out the form below or schedule a free introductory coaching call.
Whether you use free resources, enroll in a course, or use one-on-one coaching, it's crucial you begin training your mindset as an athlete. Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
Contact Success Starts Within Today
Please contact us to learn more about mental coaching and to see how it can improve your mental game and increase your performance. Complete the form below, call (252)-371-1602 or schedule an introductory coaching call here.
Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.eli's story
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