Mental skills and mental conditioning are areas of athletic development that separates the great performers from those that are just good. When people hear “the mental game” or “mental conditioning” even sport psychology in general they often times react as if it is only for those athletes that “choke” or can’t handle competition and pressure. The truth is athletes that compete at the highest levels have found their mental preparation is critical to their performance and routinely have mental coaches.
Elite performance isn’t just working hard at practice and giving your all in competition, it is a self awareness of the moment and preparation for competition. It is a view of pressure as opportunity and a desire to compete when the game or match is on the line. It is focus and concentration on the task at hand and developing the skills to handle the adversity, pressure, and setbacks that come. And if you are going to compete at the highest levels, there will be setbacks and adversity. Management of pressure situations separates the great athletes from the rest. John Wooden, the great basketball coach at UCLA said “sports don’t build character, they reveal it!”
Mental conditioning is knowing what motivates you to participate in your sport, setting challenging and achievable goals, being prepared for every practice and competition, learning to control what you can control rather than what you can’t control, and self awareness to make the adjustments during competition necessary to compete. It is not just showing up, but arriving and being present at every moment, every play, every pitch, every stroke no matter what your sport.
The National Sports Performance Institute teaches the mental skills of elite performance. We focus on the total athlete, both on and off the field, court, track or course. We provide the curriculum for the “mental game” but also stress balance and focus on your values and goals. The mental game is like any other part of an athlete’s training and requires consistency and work.
Take the time to consider the benefits of mental preparation and developing the mental skills to compete at your best. The benefits can separate you from the pack and enhance your overall enjoyment of your sport.