Morning Routine for Athletes to Improve Mindset

A morning routine is a great way to train your mind consistently as an athlete.

A strong mental game is a key piece to performing your best as an athlete. And to build a strong mental game, you need to train your mindset on a consistent basis.

You need to be developing specific mental skills that make up a strong mindset.

As a mental performance coach, my main focus when working with athletes is helping them develop stronger mental skills. Because these skills are what make an athlete mentally tough.

To train mental skills, just as with training physical skills, you need a routine. That way you stay consistent.

And a great way for you to make mental training routine is by creating a morning routine for yourself focused on building mental skills.

Goals of a Morning Routine for Athletes

With a morning routine, the aim is to get up every morning (or at least most mornings) and follow certain steps to begin your day.

But why? What are the benefits of creating a morning routine as an athlete?

Well the answer to that lies in the goals of a morning routine. With the first goal involving what I discussed in the introduction: generating consistency.

Train Your Mind Consistently

How much improvement would you expect if you went to the gym once a week, or even once every couple of weeks? Would you be mad if in a month you aren’t seeing as much progress as you’d like?

Or let’s imagine you’re a soccer player and you work on your passing once every few weeks. Do you really think you’re going to see much improvement in your passing skills?

It’s clear with physical skills that training consistently on a frequent basis is necessary for optimal growth. The same is true for mental skills!

To build confidence, calm your nerves, or improve your focus you need to train consistently. That is one of the core principles I work on with athletes in one-on-one coaching.

The more consistent you are with training your mind, the more progress you will make.

A morning routine helps you stay consistent with your mental training.

Build Good Habits

Habits run our lives. This is true for everyone, especially athletes. And not just physical habits, like training regularly, but also habits in terms of the way you think.

A large part of mental training involves gaining control over your thought processes. Allowing you to think in ways that help your game, instead of ways that hold you back.

When we look at patterns of thinking, it’s clear that they are habitual. Meaning, we each tend to think in a certain way on a daily basis, and especially in relation to certain situations.

Through mental training, you can work to build more positive and helpful habits in terms of how you think. And with your morning routine, you can make sure you are working on these habits consistently.

Generate a Positive Mindset to Start the Day

A positive mindset is a mindset that helps you perform your best. No matter what sport you play and no matter if it’s a game day or not, your goal should be to perform at your best each and every day.

This might mean performing your training session as well as you can that day. On game days it means performing your best during competition. And on rest days, it means resting as well as you can – especially if it involves active rest.

Performing at your highest level every day becomes much easier when you learn how to generate a better mindset going into the day.

A morning routine will help you instill such a mindset at the start of your day, since the exercises you choose to do as part of your routine will be building positive mental skills.

Creating Your Own Morning Routine as an Athlete

Your morning routine will aim to generate a positive mindset going into the day, while also building mental skills that will help you as an athlete.

This allows for a nice balance between a long-term benefit and a short term benefit of your morning routine.

So what I’m going to do is walk you through a process you can use to create an efficient and effective morning routine for yourself.

Step #1: Take a Mental Game Inventory

A morning routine allows you to train your mind consistently. But first, you need to know exactly what skills you are working to build through your training.

This is where a mental game inventory comes into play.

Think of this like a self-assessment. You are going to take an honest and objective look at your mindset in relation to your game and ask yourself these two questions:

  • What are my strengths
  • What areas would benefit me the most if improved?

Identifying your strengths allows you to choose exercises that will help make them even stronger. You don’t want to overlook your mental strengths…you want to build upon them!

The second question forces you to honestly examine your weaknesses and choose the ones that need to be focused on first.

Once you complete your mental game inventory, it’s time to move onto the second step in the process.

Step #2: Choose Your Exercises

Now that you have your strengths and weaknesses identified, it’s time to choose which exercises you will use within your morning routine.

There are many different exercises that fall under the umbrella of mental training. But to make it easy for you to choose, I have outlined the main ones I have seen success with in terms of athletes using them as part of a morning routine.

Within each of the explanations, I have included a brief description of how to use the exercise, along with the main mental skills it will help build.

Self-Reflective Writing

Self-reflective writing involves writing in a journal about anything that is on your mind.

Mental skills self-reflective writing builds:

  • Self-awareness: by writing in a journal, you come face to face with your own thinking. This builds understanding and provides you with clearer insight into how your mind works.
  • A calm mind: to manage sports performance anxiety, you want to focus on developing a calmer mind. Through writing, you work through your own worries and help clear and calm your mind.
  • Focus: writing every morning improves focus by helping to sift through worries and thoughts that are clouding your mind, along with giving you the opportunity to set your intentions for the day. Making sure you are staying on track towards your goals.

How to practice self-reflective writing:

  • All you need to do is get yourself a journal and sit down each morning and write one page. That’s it. When it comes to what to write about, don’t overthink it. If something comes to mind, write it down! You’re not writing a book here or an essay for English class. Your only goal is to take the thoughts in your head and get them on the paper.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you work to keep your attention in the present moment for a specific amount of time each day.

Mental skills mindfulness meditation helps build:

  • Focus: mindfulness meditation is focus training. The practice allows you to train your ability to control where you place your attention, along with improving the skill of refocusing when you become distracted.
  • Self-Awareness: much like self-reflective writing, mindfulness meditation builds awareness and understanding. When you meditate, it is you and your thoughts. Nothing else. Coming face to face with your own mind can be scary, but will have an incredible impact on your self-awareness.
  • A calm mind: when you meditate, a feeling of calmness will come over you. The more you experience that calm, the easier it is for you to get into that state. This means, before a game begins, you will have the skill of turning your attention to your breath, gathering yourself in the moment, and relaxing your mind. That is a powerful skill for whenever you are anxious.
  • Emotional Control: when you meditate, your role is to observe your breathing. When you notice yourself beginning to think about something else, you must then return your attention to your breath. This is similar to the skills required in emotional control. You must recognize your frustration (or whatever emotion you are experiencing), let it go, and refocus onto something else.

How to perform mindfulness meditation:

  • Step 1: Begin sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight. It doesn’t matter if you sit on the floor or in a chair, just be sure to be comfortable, as we do not want posture to pull your focus away from the meditation.
  • Step 2: Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply. You want to focus only on your breath, feel it going in and out. Hold no expectations for the practice. Do your best to stay in the moment.
  • Step 3: While you focus on your breath, allow thoughts to come and go as they please. Do not hold any attachment to them. Do not attempt to force yourself to not have thoughts, either. Just observe what they are.
  • Step 4: When you do notice thoughts, observe them and then return your attention onto your breath.

Sports Visualization

Sports visualization is the act of imagining yourself performing your skills

Mental skills sports visualization helps build:

  • Confidence: building confidence in sports requires experience. You must see yourself succeed over and over again for your confidence to grow. Visualization allows you to see yourself succeed each and every morning.
  • Motivation: imagining yourself playing well and reaching your goals is a great way to increase motivation. It fuels your belief that you can succeed, which in turn fuels your efforts when it comes to training for the day.
  • Performing Under Pressure: you can visualize yourself in pressure filled moments. By doing so, you increase your confidence and belief in these moments, allowing you to be calmer and more composed during games.

How to perform sports visualization:

  • Step 1: Find yourself a quiet location, free from any distractions.
  • Step 2: Get into a comfortable position with your back. Either sitting on a chair or on the ground. Avoid lying on a couch, as that will make it more difficult to visualize clearly.
  • Step 3: Breathe to get yourself relaxed. Take ten to twenty deep breaths, focusing on your breath and allowing your mind to become settled.
  • Step 4: Begin to create your scene. I’ll use a baseball player hitting as an example. You can visualize yourself hitting off a tee, then progress to hitting batting practice. From there, see yourself hitting in a game. The key is to make it detailed and real. See and feel yourself succeed each time.


Self-talk is the internal dialogue that is constantly going on in your head. Training self-talk allows you to program your mind to think in a way that helps you as an athlete.

Mental skills self-talk helps build:

  • Confidence: a self-talk routine works to reprogram the way you think. Daily, you will be repeating positive and confidence building statements to yourself.
  • Focus: thoughts are the foundation of focus. During a game, for you to be focused on what you’re doing, you cannot have your mind thinking about something else. A self-talk routine strengthens your skill of controlling your thinking during games.
  • A calm mind: anxiety and fear are formed by thinking. If you can control your thinking before and during games, naturally your mind will be calmer. You won’t have as many racing and worrisome thoughts filling your head while trying to compete.

How to create a self-talk routine:

A self-talk routine is very simple. All it requires you to do is make a list of about ten statements and then reread the list to yourself each morning.

Make each statement in your list in the present tense. And when you’re thinking about what to say, ask yourself, “What kinds of thoughts do I want to have?”

Here is a sample self-talk list:

  • I am a confident player.
  • I am in control of my mind.
  • I am a strong competitor.
  • I am a focused player.
  • I believe in myself and my skills.
  • I am improving every day.
  • I am calm and composed under pressure.
  • I am working hard every day towards my goals.
  • I accept mistakes and learn from them.
  • I love to compete.

Final Thoughts

As an athlete, you need to be training your mind. And to train your mind, just as with training your physical skills, you need to do so consistently.

A morning mental training routine ensures you are training your mindset on a consistent basis.

Over time, this will work to build mental skills. But in the short-term, a morning routine is a great way to generate an optimal mindset going into the day.

Look over the tools and exercises outlined above, choose a few or all of them, and create your own morning routine. But most importantly, get to work on applying your morning routine each and every day!

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 Straw

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.

Mental Training Courses

Learn more about our two main mental training courses for athletes: Mental Training Advantage and The Mentally Tough Kid.

The Mentally Tough Kid course will teach your young athlete tools & techniques to increase self-confidence, improve focus, manage mistakes, increase motivation, and build mental toughness.

In Mental Training Advantage, you will learn tools & techniques to increase self-confidence, improve focus, manage expectations & pressure, increase motivation, and build mental toughness. It’s time to take control of your mindset and unlock your full athletic potential!

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Get one-on-one mental performance coaching to help break through mental barriers and become the athlete you’re meant to be!