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The Role Of Mental Toughness in Maximizing Athletic Potential


It can be difficult for individuals and athletes to stay motivated, manage stress and prevent becoming overwhelmed. Can mental toughness and a positive attitude help increase potential and performance levels?

The Role Of Mental Toughness in Maximizing Athletic Potential

Mental Toughness

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts work on conditioning, skills training, and perfecting techniques. Physical training can take individuals far but another necessary part of maximizing athletic potential is building mental toughness and having the right attitude. Like anything, mental training takes time, effort, and regular adjustments to find ways to shift a losing or bad attitude into a positive one that can bring out the best.

Attitude Is Important

If negativity begins to set in like dealing with an injury, getting rid of self-limiting beliefs can be difficult, as well as generate optimism to rise up and succeed. For athletes or individuals who enjoy competitive sports, developing a positive mental attitude will help with:

  • Emotions that can affect cognitive functioning strategies.
  • Energy levels.
  • Other aspects of physical performance.

Mental Strategies

Mood Improvement

Individuals frustrated by a pessimistic perspective tend to dwell on problems or issues. To shift into a positive mood do something to lift your spirits, even if you don’t think it will help.

  • Listen to your favorite or uplifting music.
  • Watch an inspirational movie.
  • Read a sports psychology book.
  • Get together or call a teammate or friend that are cheerful and upbeat.
  • Play different games just for fun.
  • Take a break, go to the park, walk around, and meditate.
  • Get into hobbies.
  • Relax with a therapeutic massage.

Positive Self Talk

Continuing sports psychology research shows that practicing positive self-talk can improve athletic performance. (Nadja Walter, et al., 2019) Sports psychologists describe this through the idea that thoughts create beliefs, that drive actions.

Positive self-talk can take different forms.
For some reciting a specific phrase, sentence, or a single word can effectively manage thoughts, push out the negativity, and focus on taking care of business. Anything that inspires can include:

  • Focus
  • Remember the fundamentals!
  • You know what to do!
  • You can do it!
  • You got this!

Research shows that positive self-talk reduces anxiety and increases self-confidence, optimization, efficacy, and performance. (Nadja Walter, et al., 2019) However, self-talk needs to be practiced and part of a regular routine to be effective.


Another strategy is using visualization exercises.

  • This means imagining various scenarios in which competition is happening and things are working out. (Mathias Reiser, Dirk Büsch, Jörn Munzert. 2011)
  • This could be using all the senses to imagine the venue where the tournament is taking place, the sound of the crowd, the smells, how the ground or court feels, and/or how the ball or specific sports object feels.
  • The wisdom is if you can think it, you can do it, once that is determined apply strategies to get there.

Sports Injury Rehabilitation


Walter, N., Nikoleizig, L., & Alfermann, D. (2019). Effects of Self-Talk Training on Competitive Anxiety, Self-Efficacy, Volitional Skills, and Performance: An Intervention Study with Junior Sub-Elite Athletes. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 7(6), 148. doi.org/10.3390/sports7060148

Reiser, M., Büsch, D., & Munzert, J. (2011). Strength gains by motor imagery with different ratios of physical to mental practice. Frontiers in psychology, 2, 194. doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00194

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "The Role Of Mental Toughness in Maximizing Athletic Potential" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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