Top 5 Mental Training Tricks for Athletes
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The Top Mental Practice techniques for Elite Athletes
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” –Henry Ford
This beautiful quote from Henry Ford, sums up in a nutshell what this article is all about.
The sooner you realize the importance of mentality the faster you will elevate your success in your athletic career.
No matter which successfull athlete you look up to, they will all agree in one thing.
There is a direct correlation to mentality and success.
If you are interested in becoming the best athlete you can be; here are some skills which can be developed to elevate your game.
Even if you are an amateur athlete, or someone who enjoys winning while playing in any sports, mental preparation and training is key.
I am personally so passionate about the mental side of preparing to excel in sports. The Champions Mentality.
And there is a false quote out there that says, you can’t learn to be mentally tough.
I personally laugh at that.
Those who ignore that and work on their mental game, they are giving themselves a huge advantage and that’s you right now.
Becoming confident and focus is no different than learning the fundamental physical skills any athlete learns for a sport
You just have to work few mental drills and overtime your mind strength becomes automatic, just like any other skill.
Top drills to get you this competitive advantage
The great thing about those drills, is that you can do them everywhere.
#1. Mental Practice
Some people call it visualization.
A lot of people are not visual though. And that’s ok.
You don’t have to be visual to get the benefit. Athletes normally do 2 mistakes with that.
They are either not doing that, or they are too vague to what they want to achieve. Get more detail specific in your mental practice.
Whatever you can create in your mind, you can create in reality as well.
Albert Einstein said long ago: Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.
Whether you believe it or not, you can practice your sports with your imagination.
Here is how the mental practice works.
The mind and the nervous system, don’t know the difference between a real event and a vividly imagined event.
And as far as the mind is concerned, it’s all the same. If you practice perfect performance vividly, beautifully detailed in your mind then you are basically empowering your mind to make it happen.
Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.
Mental practice can be as good as actual practice. You prepare your mind to experience the state you want to live.
You don’t have to “visualize” or see yourself doing your sport in your mind to get the maximum benefits out of your mental practice.
Use your imagination in your own way.
However, you do it, it’s great for you!
#2. Get Present
Multiple times a day, take your attention to what your 5 senses are taking you, to get you at the present moment. Why?
Because fear cannot exist in the present moment. Fear is our biggest enemy in Sports. Eliminate it.
As an athlete you will be faced with fear, it is inevitable.
Don’t mistake fear for being nervous. Being nervous is a good thing.
Being nervous shows you that what you are about to do means something to you. Being nervous shows you that you understand the importance of what comes next.
However, you need to get in this right moment.
When you aren’t being present you become a victim of time. Your mind is pulled into the past or the future, or both.
Your thoughts are of the past: what has been, what could have been, what you thought happened vs. what did happen. Or, your thoughts are of the future: what will be, what could be, what might be, if…
By doing that you can constantly build the habit to focus in this very moment and get the best out of it.
Of course, it’s natural to spend moments of thought in the past or in daydreams of the future but the best way to always avoid fearing anxiety and fear for what’s coming, jump into action now.
Take this moment and attack your fears by acting right now.
#3. Use a Mantra
Are you ever finding yourself in need of a pick me up? Sometimes, rainy days can get you down and make it super hard to focus on your goals. You might find your heart feeling heavy or you simply feel out of tune with yourself.
A mantra is defined as a repeated set of words or sounds that helps you maintain focus and concentration while meditating. However, on the day-to-day, mantras themselves aren’t just meant to be practiced through verbal repetition, but also through your daily actions. In other words, your mantra isn’t just about saying the words with your breath, it’s also about living them too.
A word, a phrase, something that means something to you about your ability to compete at your best, your goals, a trigger that makes your confidence instantly boost and repeat it multiple times every day.
Example: I will never quit, I work harder than anyone else, I am good enough.
Say that to yourself dozens of times a day till you believe them wholeheartedly
How and when to do it?
- I personally start and end my day no matter what with this. It’s a personal instant boost, a way to tune in, remember what are my goals for the day and align with them.
- Also, I have seen through time, that doing that before I sleep helps me take away any stressful thoughts and sleep better.
- You can also set aside a dedicated time for meditation without the distractions of your phone or computer around. Make it a routine.
- You know how? No matter what happens, starting as of tomorrow and for the next 21 days spend 5 minutes of your day doing that.
- Be sure to focus on your breath moving in conjunction with your mantra
#4. Let it go
Fails and undesirable moments happen all the time in our life and in your athletic career will be no different.
You get a conscious practice to reduce the time when those things happen and when we move on.
You need to make it a habit to verbally forgive yourself when you make mistake that cause those undesirable moments.
Sports are about who handles making mistakes the best.
Resilience is all you need to succeed in anything.
You have to understand that mistakes are the only way. Is the only right learning process.
Means you are trying, you are fighting.
Embrace them, learn from them and move on as quickly as you can.
One of the bigger mental mistakes athletes across all sports make is to hang onto their mistakes during competitions.
The time to work on your mistakes is ALWAYS in practice and NEVER while you’re performing. Your job when you screw up is to immediately leave the mistake behind you, in the past and refocus on what you’re doing RIGHT NOW!
How you can change it? There is a technique called Mistake Ritual.
What’s a mistake ritual?
It’s a little routine that you can quickly go through right after a mistake (when there’s time) to help you mentally let go of your mistake.
Mistake rituals are really helpful for sports where there are a lot of natural breaks in the action like tennis, golf, baseball, softball, football, etc.
They are also useful in a continuous action sport like soccer for example, if your position allows you time in between play, i.e. the goalie position.
#5. Practice Focus
It’s really important for athletes to be able to concentrate and stay focused in sports.
When you are able to fully concentrate, you become totally involved in what you are doling and feel as if time has stopped.
Practicing your ability to focus is key and yes, it can be trained.
Recognize When and Why You Lose Focus.
Think about your past performances, how and when did you get distracted? When you heard a parent or coach yelling? When the other team scored? After making a mistake?
Make a list of your most common distractions.
For multiple times a day, pick something to stare at and time yourself for how long you can focus on that thing, without any other thoughts creeping in.
Your ability to focus is like a muscle getting stronger by using weight training. You get better and better by working on it. By making that a daily habit.
Most sport only need a very short time for intense focus. You can strengthen this ability by this very simple drill I just mentioned.
There you have it. It’s not so much about getting it right. Like it has to do
Having the intention and getting your reps in.
You can learn mental toughness.
Many athletes search for the answer for how to become “mentally tough” and many others how to cultivate it.
Even worse, many athletes and coaches don’t know what mental toughness is and how it can help their performance.
Some of them even make fun of it.
However, if you run a survey around the web you will read why professional athletes and Olympians espouse the virtues of mental toughness training and how mental toughness was the reason for their great athletic achievements.
Sport at the highest level is heavily characterized by a demand to excel at superior levels and perform under conditions that are considered extremely demanding and testing.
Athletes need to saturate themselves into a consistent mental training regime.
- The 1st step is what you do right now.
- Read and learn about it.
- Believe it and start working on it.
- This needs to become your daily routine.
- Exactly like you do with your regular training. In order to see results you need to repeat time after time those 5 technique I described above.
- Do it for at least a month straight and let me know about the results.
Your level of confidence, your performance, your ability to focus stay in the game will elevate gradually.
I am looking forward to hearing back from you regarding your progress. :-D