We have become so familiar with the phrase “peak performance”. We know that peak performance is not only attained by working hard physically but also by being mentally fit and tough. Mental toughness is the prerequisite to achieving peak performance. You have to be ready to face adversities head on and without being anxious.
Being mentally tough has nothing to do with your genetic makeup or biology. It is not hereditary and certainly has nothing to do with being nonchalant in the name of being tough. Being mentally tough is being able to perceive, face and overcome a challenge. Mental toughness is a skill that can and should be developed. It pertains to the strength of your mental game.
Know that being mentally fit isn’t in anyway a guarantee for peak performance, however it is key if you must turn out a successful athlete.
“It’s an athlete’s ability to stay focused, motivated, committed in the pursuit of their goals, especially in the face of adversity and failure…It’s not like you show up on game day and have it.” As said by Daniel Gould, a sports psychologist at Michigan State University who coaches Olympic and collegiate athletes. Mental toughness is about figuring out how to achieve goals without making any excuses.
A wise man once said “always have a contingency plan”. Mental toughness is your contingency plan in the face of adversity.
So how do you develop mental toughness?
“Without adversity in your life, mental toughness does not exist. Without adversity in your life growing up, how does one develop the self-disciplines and the know-how to overcome future adversities?” – Middleon
If you must develop your mental toughness, be ready to face adversities in the field as Adversity is a necessary pre-condition.
GOULD: “Obviously we don’t want something terrible to happen, But sometimes we put athletes in situation that are over their head once in a while…Good coaches do simulations, You are not making kids fail, but putting them in situations where they fail sometimes….Part of being mentally tough is when you have a plan A where everything goes perfectly, plan B something has gone wrong, plan C is all heck breaks loose, You have some strategies to go to in these events.”
When you deliberately work on your mental toughness, you will find that dealing with failure and losses, overcoming injuries, managing difficult game conditions (bad weather, delays, poor officiating, or malfunctioning equipment) and other distractions become easier.
1. Imagine all possible challenge and adversities in your sport
2. Imagine how you would deal with these challenges.
3. Simulate these situations/challenges in practice so that you can learn to perform under pressure.
4. Review your performance and identify coping strategies that worked for you or what you can do different in the next session.