Brain & Mental Health

The Role Of Mental Toughness in Maximizing Athletic Potential

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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?

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.

Visualization

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


References

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

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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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