How to Develop Mentally Tough Young Athletes
One of the highest compliments an athlete can get is the label “mentally tough.” Mental toughness isn’t a quality people are born with. Rather, it includes a set of learned attitudes and ways of viewing competitive situations in productive ways.
Coaches and parents are in an ideal position to help young athletes develop a healthy philosophy about achievement and an ability to tolerate setbacks when they occur. By teaching mental toughness lessons to kids, adults can give them a priceless gift that will benefit them in many areas of everyday life. Here are some specific attitudes that can be communicated to young athletes.
1. Sports should be fun.
- Emphasize that sports and other activities in life are enjoyable just to play, whether you win or lose.
- Athletes should be participating, first and foremost, to have fun.
- Try to promote the enjoyment of many activities in and of themselves so that winning is not a condition for enjoyment.
2. Anything worth achieving is rarely easy.
- It’s important to recognize that the process of achieving mastery is a long and difficult road. According to Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success.”
- Becoming the best athlete one can be is not an achievement to be had merely for the asking.
- Practice, practice, and still more practice is needed to master any sport.
3. Mistakes are a necessary part of learning anything well.
- Very simply, if we don’t make mistakes, we probably won’t learn. John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach, referred to mistakes as the “stepping stones to achievement.”
- Emphasize to athletes that mistakes, rather than being things to avoid at all costs, are opportunities for performance enhancement. They give us the information we need to adjust and improve.
- The only true mistake is a failure to learn from our experiences.
4. Effort is what counts.
- Emphasize and praise effort as well as the outcome.
- Communicate repeatedly to young athletes that all you ask is that they give total effort.
- Through your actions and your words, show youngsters that they are just as important to you when trying and losing as when winning. If maximum effort is acceptable to you, it can also become acceptable to young athletes.
- Above all, don’t punish or withdraw love and approval when kids don’t perform up to expectations. Such punishment builds fear of failure.
5. Your worth doesn’t depend on your performance.
- Help youngsters to distinguish what they do from what they are. A valuable lesson for children to learn is that they should never identify their worth as people with any particular part of themselves, such as their competence in sports, their school performance, or their physical appearance.
- You can further this process by demonstrating your own ability to accept kids unconditionally as people, even when you are communicating that you don’t approve of some behavior.
- Show children that you can gracefully accept your own mistakes and failures. Show and tell them that as a fallible human being, you can accept the fact that, despite your best efforts, you are going to occasionally bungle things.
- If children can learn to accept and like themselves, they will not unduly require the approval of others in order to feel worthwhile.
6. Pressure is something you put on yourself.
- Help young athletes to see competitive situations as exciting self-challenges rather than as threats.
- Emphasize that people can choose how to think about pressure situations.
- The above attitudes will help to develop an outlook on pressure that transforms it into a challenge and an opportunity to test themselves and to achieve something worthwhile.
7. You can actually like and respect your opponents.
- Some coaches and athletes think that proper motivation comes from anger or hatred for the opponent. That’s totally wrong!
- Sports should promote sportsmanship and an appreciation that opponents, far from being the “enemy,” are fellow athletes who make it possible to compete.
- Hatred can only breed stress and fear. In terms of emotional arousal, fear, and anger are indistinguishable patterns of physiologic responses. Thus, the arousal of anger can become the arousal of fear if things begin to go badly during competition.
For more, see the research-based videos, “Mastery Approach to Coaching” and “Mastery Approach to Parenting in Sports” to learn skill development, achieving personal and team success, giving maximum effort, and having fun.
Coaching Mental Toughness for Youth Sports – Part 1
Coaching Mental Toughness for Youth Sports – Part 1
If you asked almost any middle school, high school, collegiate and professional coach to name the one skill or character trait that is THE MOST important to the future success of an athlete, and most benefits the team that the athlete is on, many coaches (if not most) will tell you “the most valuable attribute a player can have is Mental Toughness. ”
Having mental toughness does not guarantee a team a championship, but a lack of mental toughness IS guaranteed to cost a team a championship or an opportunity to compete for a championship. Mental toughness is arguably the one attribute that most often determines the outcome of games, particularly in the critical pressure-filled crucible of post-season play. Yet despite all of the discussion about how important mental toughness is in sports, mental toughness often means so many different things to so many different coaches and to so many different athletes. Some coaches and players believe mental toughness is all about how hard we compete and push ourselves, while others believe that mental toughness is more about how well we perform under pressure. Still others believe that mental toughness is all about how well we respond and bounce back from mistakes or adversity, such as a bad call or no call from a referee, an unlucky bounce, or how well we maintain our confidence when our opponent is playing very well and is making a big run with all of the game’s momentum on their side. All of these different ways of defining mental toughness are correct, but they do not bring us any closer to helping players simply understand what mental toughness is and what it isn’t, and they do not bring us any closer to answering arguably the most important question of all…how do we DEVELOP mental toughness in our players?”
When working with older players and older teams at the varsity high school level, collegiate and professional levels, I always define mental toughness and construct an improvement plan to develop mental toughness around “4 C’s” – meaning an athlete’s Composure, Concentration, Confidence & Commitment. A 5th C – Character, which in many ways is also connected to mental toughness, completes the full and essential mental makeup of the player.
However, for youth players, the meaning of these 4 C’s are not as well understood as they are by coaches and players at higher/more elite levels. When working with youth players, it is much easier and much more effective to define mental toughness in relation to key on-court/on-field and off-court/off-field BEHAVIORS. Key mental toughness behaviors are very easy to understand, simple to create a plan for, and simple to execute. In addition, behaviors can often be scored, which means that improvements can be measured and monitored.
A Smart Mental Toughness Plan for Youth Sports
The 12 key mental toughness behaviors that I will outline in part 1 and part 2 of this article will provide the youth coach and youth athlete with a SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE way to define toughness and put a foundational plan in place to improve toughness. A smart coach can create an easy plan by focusing on just the same smaller set of behaviors each and every day in practice for a number of days or a number of weeks. For example, a 6 week plan can be created by choosing the same 2 behaviors each day for the 1st week, before moving on to the next 2 behaviors. The plan can be extended or shortened using this same principle. For example, if a coach wanted to create a 6 day mental toughness improvement plan for the team, then he or she could have the team focus on just a different set of 2 key mental toughness behaviors each day for 6 days. For youth sports, I would strongly recommend focusing on the same 2 key mental toughness behaviors for a number of days (focusing for 5-7 days on the same 2 mental toughness behaviors before moving on to the next 2 would be ideal) to help ensure that the behaviors begin to form into consistent habits. Taking this plan to the next level, coaches can create a simple point system on an easy-to-read marker board or poster in practice, where a point is scored for an athlete when they exhibit one of the 2 mental toughness behaviors that are being emphasized that day. Then, at the end of that day or at the end of the week, the coach can give some fun rewards (like an energy bar or Gatorade) to the winner of each behavior category, an overall points winner for all of the categories, and even a team prize such as a trip to the local ice cream parlor for shakes, burgers or ice slurpees etc, if the cumulative scores of all of the individual points reaches a certain number.
Mental Toughness Success Keys
The list of the 12 key toughness behaviors is by no means exhaustive. Most experienced coaches could easily generate additional toughness behaviors with some thought and effort. However, remember that the goal when working with youth athletes from a cognitive and learning perspective is keep it simple and keep it fun! Less is often more when working with youth athletes because the amount that they actually LEARN is more important than the amount that they are exposed to. Focusing on just a maximum of 2-3 key behaviors at a time will help the youth athlete to absorb more, learn more and improve more. Further, all of the toughness success keys are 100% controllable by the player, meaning that each of the keys are based on either attitude or effort or a combination of both, versus success keys that are based on ability/high levels of skill or uncontrollable outcomes.
Creating toughness keys based on ability and outcomes have value at professional levels, and to a certain degree at collegiate and varsity scholastic levels, but for youth sports, the more controllable a task the more confidence and motivation the youth athlete will have in the pursuit of that task or goal. Before listing the behaviors, one final point should be made. It is often helpful to show what mental toughness IS and also what mental toughness IS NOT. While it can be important for youth athletes to understand the types of behaviors that are not encouraged or not accepted, a few coaches might choose to deduct a point from an athlete’s overall score when one of the undesirable behaviors occurs. I believe that when using a point tracking system for youth athletes, point deductions can often be a double-edged sword of motivation, because while I am a very strong believer in accountability and a strong believer that the undesirable behavior should be acknowledged and corrected, actual point deductions can be very demoralizing for the youth athlete. Research conclusively demonstrates that for motivation and successful learning outcomes for the youth athlete, the power and effectiveness of positive rewards for the good and desired behavior has greater and longer lasting effects than the negative punishments used in an attempt to avoid and discourage the undesired behavior.
The youth coach is encouraged to meet with his/her team before practice, and read to the team the key mental toughness behaviors (and the descriptions of the behaviors) that will be emphasized during that practice. The coach should hang a simple and easy to read poster with bright markers during practice that has the 2-3 key toughness behaviors being emphasized on the day as columns and all of the players names as rows, and keep a simple point scoring system during practice to make a big deal out of each player whenever a player demonstrates one of the toughness behaviors.
Part 1 of this series will focus on the first 6 Key Mental Toughness Behaviors, and Part 2 will outline the remaining 6 Key Mental Toughness Behaviors
The Key Mental Toughness Behaviors
# 1 EXCUSES
The Mentally Tough Player – RARELY MAKES EXCUSES
The mentally tough player rarely makes excuses for mistakes, for losing, for not playing well, for getting outplayed by an opponent, or when things do not go their way. Instead, the mentally tough player accepts responsibility for his or her role in the mistake and focuses on things that he/she can do better to make the situation and outcome better next time.
The Mentally Weak Player – OFTEN MAKES EXCUSES WHEN THINGS DO NOT GO HIS/HER WAY
# 2 WORK ETHIC
The Mentally Tough Player – HAS GREAT WORK ETHIC
The mentally tough player plays extremely hard in practice and carries that same high intensity into games. This type of high intensity and work ethic is given by the mentally tough player when the opponent is very talented and it is a ‘big game’ and it is also given when the opponent is less talented and the game is not viewed by others as a ‘big game’ or an ‘important game.’ The mentally tough player thinks that EVERY practice and game is important and deserves their best effort. This year’s NBA Finals feature the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, led by Lebron James and Stephen Curry respectively. James and Curry are both the best players on their teams and ALSO the hardest workers on their teams. Both Lebron James and Stephen Curry have GREAT work ethics in practice and in every game.
The Mentally Weak Player – HAS AN INCONSISTENT WORK ETHIC
# 3 COACHABILITY
The Mentally Tough Player – IS VERY COACHABLE
The mentally tough player keeps great eye contact with his/her coach when the coach is giving instruction. Mentally tough players rarely roll their eyes when they do not agree with their coach, nor do they pout or shrink into a shell of self-pity when the coach criticizes them. Instead the mentally tough player listens carefully to their coach, nods their head to show that they are listening and then works hard to try to do what the coach has asked EVEN WHEN THEY DO NOT COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THEIR COACH! Mentally tough players realize that the coach is only trying to make them better players when the coach gives instructions that involve criticism, and mentally tough players LOVE opportunities to learn and improve.
The Mentally Weak Player – OFTEN LETS PRIDE, STUBBORNESS OR SELFISHNESS GET IN THE WAY OF BEING COACHABLE
# 4 DIGGING DEEP
The Mentally Tough Player – DIGS DEEP
The mentally tough player knows how to ‘dig deep’ and find that extra effort when things get really tough, such as during conditional drills, during a hard practice, or at the end of a game when everyone is really tired.
The Mentally Weak Player – WILL SOMETIMES QUIT WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH & MAKES EXCUSES WHEN THEY DO QUIT
# 5 NEVER AFRAID TO FAIL, NEVER AFRAID OF ADVERSITY
The Mentally Tough Player – BELIEVES IN BOUNCING BACK & BELIEVES THAT FAILURE IS ONLY TEMPORARY
The mentally tough player believes that FAILURE is NEVER FATAL, and that failure is just a temporary frustration that must be quickly replaced with a new determination to PLAN TO DO BETTER, and to follow that plan TO BE BETTER. If a player misses a key shot, makes a key turn-over, or loses a big game, the very next day that same player plans (or asks his/her coach to help create a plan) to develop new practice habits to have a greater chance of success the next time that same player is in a similar situation. The mentally tough player is not afraid of failure and so is not afraid to try new things. Failure can temporarily hurt, but mentally tough players believe that failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Mentally tough players will use failure and adversity as an opportunity to once again prove to themselves and to everyone else just how tough they are by bouncing back quickly
The Mentally Weak Player – ALLOWS FAILURE TO AFFECT THEIR ABILITY TO KEEP TRYING
The mentally weak player allows failure to get them down and keep them down. The mentally weak player even allows failure to give them an excuse to stop trying, while blaming other things or other people for their decision to quit. Mentally weak players are afraid of failure and so they are afraid to try new things and afraid to do hard things. When mentally weak players experience failure, their excuses and frustration sometimes precede a downward spiral of self-pity.
# 6 REFEREES
The Mentally Tough Player – RESPECTS THE REFEREE’S/UMPS CALLS WITHOUT COMPLAINING
The mentally tough player accepts referee decisions, even calls they do not agree with, and they do so without rolling their eyes, acting surprised or showing their frustration. As soon as the referee makes a call, the player starts thinking about the next play, what will be important on the next play, and how to bring their ‘A’ game to the next play. The mentally tough player realizes that it is the coach’s job to question a call (whenever the coach thinks that it is necessary to question a call), and NEVER the player’s job to question a referee’s call.
The Mentally Weak Player – ONLY ACTS ‘RIGHT’ WHEN THEY THINK THE CALL IS ‘RIGHT’
The mentally weak player complains about referee calls and uses referee decisions as an excuse for poor play or when things are not going their way. The mentally weak player’s complaints often result in a loss of poise and focus, and give the opponents confidence by revealing to the opponent just how frustrated the complaining player is.
Stay tuned for your next Icebox Athlete newsletter to read Part 2 of Mental Toughness for Youth Sports and the remaining 6 Key Mental Toughness Behaviors!
About the author:
Spencer Wood Ph. D (ABD), M.S., C.S.C.S., P.E.S., Member A.A.S.P., is an internationally renowned speaker, author and trainer of athletes and coaches in the area of Championship Mental Skills & Toughness Training. A featured speaker at five NCAA Final Fours, and an on-site provider of Mental Skills & Toughness Training Workshops for over 100 championship university programs across the United States, and for professional teams in leagues such as the NBA, With the creation of The EDGE 4 part DVD MENTAL TOUGHNESS TRAINING SYSTEM, Spencer continues to use his unique blend of motivation and passion for athletic excellence to impact the lives and careers of 1000’s of athletes and coaches. For more information or to order a copy, visit www.iceboxathlete.com
How to Develop Mentally Tough Young Athletes – Build Mental Toughness
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CLICK HERE: Mental Performance Coaching
How to Develop Mental Strength in Youth Athletes – BOTH-AND Coaching
A common question that I get from coaches is: How can I make my athletes more mentally tough? For as big of a buzz word as mental toughness is though, the concept is a black box. In this post, I’ll open up that box and bust 4 harmful myths about mental toughness. Dispelling these myths is vital for coaches to actually help young athletes develop mental strength and support their overall mental well-being. Before we get there, however, it’s important to consider our current context. That is, why are coaches concerned about developing mental strength in this generation of youth athletes?
Research on Generation Z athletes and preliminary findings from a study I’m conducting with athletic directors across Michigan offer insight. This response from one coach (also an athletic director) echoes the perspective of other sport leaders and (partially) resonates with me in my coaching:
“Today’s generation of youth is, for lack of a better term, soft. It’s not necessarily their fault. The environment that they are growing up in is different. Everyone gets a participation trophy. Kids just are less willing to work hard, to work through failure, and grind it out. And parents aren’t letting kids fail. In the classroom and on the court, parents pave the path for their kids. ‘Helicopter parents’ who used to hover have become ‘snowplow’ or ‘lawnmower parents’ who push all the adversity out of the way so that kids never get the chance to learn how to deal with pressure and failure.”
Like this coach, I work with some parents who get out the snowplow at times. I also work with caring and level-headed parents. Consider that parents, like players and coaches, don’t live in a vacuum. The pressure that parents face navigating the youth sport system (the privatized one with a high price tag and year-round training option only) is challenging. We need to confront these challenges through a lens of contribution rather than blame. Coaches need to work with parents and players (and administrators) to ensure that every youth athlete has an empowering sport experience.
So, how do we help young people learn to grow in/through adversity in sport?
First, we need to define mental toughness. And I’ll pose the same question to you as I do to coaches who bring up the topic: How do you define mental strength?
Better yet, engage in this quick reflective exercise: Think of a time when you felt mentally tough. What was the situation? What were your thoughts/feelings/actions in response to that situation?
Now compare your practical knowledge to one prevalent definition within sport psychology. Mental toughness regards values, attitudes, cognitions, emotions, and behaviors that refer to an individual’s ability to thrive through positively and negatively construed challenges, pressures, and adversities(Gucciardi et al., 2009).
This definition is dense. But the complexity and nuance are important to unpack in order to fully understand what mental toughness is and how coaches can best support athlete mental strength and well-being. Let’s debunk some commonly held myths about mental toughness in sport (and life) in order to work through, and from, this new definition.
Myth 1) Mentally tough athletes always think/feel positive thoughts/emotions
Mental toughness involves observable and less visible behaviors such as thoughts and emotions. But people who show mental strength DO NOT always think self-affirming thoughts or feel 100% confident. More positivity does not translate into more mental toughness. Being overly positive and unrealistic in our thinking can undermine our performance and motivation; when we set unrealistic expectations for success and continually fall short, we are less likely to work hard and persist through challenges. Instead, mental strength requires realistic beliefs about our abilities. It requires trusting in and focusing on our individual process—on improving rather than proving oneself— regardless of the situation.
Mentally strong people are also aware of “negative” thoughts and emotions. They thrive through positive and negative situations, which can be external (e.g., game conditions) and internal (e.g., fearing failure). Athletes who show mental strength have the courage to acknowledge and examine negative thoughts/emotions to gather information about their situation. For example, if a player feels frustrated because of team conflict, that athlete shows mental toughness by attending to their “what” (emotion) and “why” (reasons for the feeling) rather than suppressing their frustration (which likely makes team dynamics worse). Mentally tough individuals don’t ignore negativity. They embrace all aspects of their experience to move forward and act in accordance with their values (e.g., use team conflict to strength group relationships).
Myth 2) Mentally tough athletes are not emotional or sensitive.
This myth harkens back to Tom Hanks’ memorable line from A League of Our Own, “There’s no crying in baseball!”. Being mentally tough does NOT mean that you feel fewer emotions or are less emotionally sensitive. As debunked in myth #1, mentally strong people are deeply aware of their emotions. Mental strength requires that we are willing to acknowledge and validate our emotional experiences. In doing so, we recognize that emotions are a common aspect of being human: we are not the only one, and are not wrong for, feeling sadness, guilt, and fear. By mindfully processing emotions, mentally strong athletes can then decide how to best move toward accomplishing their goals. That is, they can consider why they feel the way that they do, and whether/how those emotions are helping or hurting them achieve their aims.
Myth 3) Mentally tough people push through more (physical) pain.
Mental toughness is NOT measured by the number of wind sprints an athlete can push through. I think, or at least I hope, that coaches are steering away from running youth athletes until they puke as their method for building mental toughness. This old-school approach is not only unintelligent but irresponsible. I am not suggesting that all fitness training is bad. But improperly training athletes and risking their physical/psychological health while claiming that you’re “building character” is abusive.
Mentally strong athletes train hard and smart. Training hard and smart means guiding athletes to push their physical limits in developmentally appropriate ways, and also setting boundaries to ensure long-term performance, development, and well-being. Mentally tough athletes understand that proper rest and recovery are a part of their training process. They are disciplined, consistent, and patient. And, they have the humility and courage to step out of the game if injured when “just playing through it” for the short-term glory jeopardizes their long-term goals.
Myth 4)Individuals working through mental health issues are mentally weak.
Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent and visible across competitive sport levels. Advocacy efforts of professional athletes (e.g., Kevin Love, Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps) have helped spark open conversation about mental health issues. These efforts are important because mainstream sport culture celebrates a “no pain, no gain” mentality and silences talk about mental health. Given increases in mental health issues among Generation Z athletes (and youth generally), talking about mental health and disrupting the notion that mental health struggles and toughness are incompatible is critical.
Mental strength includes (learned) attributes and skills that enable individuals to thrive in performance situations. Everyone has the ability to improve their mental strength, but the process to do so is unique to each person. While athletes with mental health issues may experience more adversity that hardly means they are mentally weak. In fact, athletes actually demonstrate and develop incredible mental strength through, not in spite of, their mental health struggles as Michael Phelps describes here.
Practical tips for building mentally strong athletes
Coaches are in an ideal position to challenge myths about mental toughness in order to help youth athletes build mental strength and change sport culture. Here are 4 practical tips to do so.
- Work with, rather than around, parents.
We can work with, rather than around, parents by proactively communicating our approach and setting boundaries. We need to explain our “what” (philosophy), “why” (rationale), and “how” (boundaries that are necessary for us to coach effectively). When coaches do so, we give parents a framework for how to get involved in ways that align with our efforts to support their young athlete’s developmental process. In conversations with parents, encourage them to let their kids fail. More than this, convey to parents and players that failure is necessary for learning and growth. Failure as necessary feedback conveys that “success” is not just about the outcome (i.e., winning) but about committing to a young athlete’s individual process—to becoming the best version of one’s self and getting better each day.
- Create a “brave” space for athletes in training and games.
Coaches cultivate brave spaces by creating (optimally) challenging situations in which athletes are on their “learning” edge. For athletes to learn to embrace physical and mental challenges and uncertainty, coaches need to praise moments when players have the courage to take risks and attempt difficult tasks. We need to narrate that these moments are prime opportunities for growth so that athletes see value in pushing past their comfort zone. Brave spaces also have boundaries, and coaches must help athletes set these. We need to teach athletes how to train smart and listen to their bodies. Along with giving athletes encouragement to test their limits, we must emphasize that recovery is a part, not the absence, of training.
- Encourage athletes to become aware of their thoughts and emotions.
Invite athletes to view these internal experiences—whether they appraise them as positive or negative—as normal and potentially useful for achieving their goals. Guide athletes to define their values and long-term goals. Regularly check in with players and pose reflective questions to help them consider why they feel or think the way that they do, and whether/how those thoughts or emotions are helping or hurting them achieve their goals. Help them become aware of and responsive to their own (and others’) emotions instead of suppressing them or avoiding perspective taking.
- Leverage social media to help athletes develop mental strength.
Social media impacts how our young people view failure and their development of mental strength. Social media is often used as a platform to make ourselves appear perfect. We rarely post (or view posts) of failure or adversity and more often see images of championship celebrations and college signing day. While I don’t want to discourage people from celebrating their successes, coaches can help athletes understand that social media largely shows the “positive” parts of others’ process. As coaches, we can use examples of professional athletes working through adversity to start conversations with youth athletes. We can also think critically about what we post (and invite athletes to do so), by asking the question: Is my post an effort to prove myself (and appear perfect) or capture my process?
How we construe a situation as “positive” or “negative” is subjective, not always clear cut, and dependent on context. We tend to describe experiences in an either-or, not both-and, fashion (e.g., we are either happy or sad). Rigid categories give us clarity but don’t always capture the contradictory nature of our emotional experiences. Practically speaking though, we can appraise an experience as more—or less—positive or negative. For example, returning to play from an athletic injury might be construed as less favorable, or “negative”, whereas playing an opponent of lesser ability might be construed as a more favorable or “positive”.
How coaches can help strengthen mental toughness (VIDEO)
This article and accompanying video was produced by Dr. Cassidy Preston, the founder of Consistent Elite Performance and a full-time high-performance coach helping elite athletes, teams, and businesses increase their performance and well-being. A former OHL & pro hockey player, Cassidy combines his personal experiences with the current research in sport and performance psychology to create relatable and practical strategies for his clients to apply.
Mental strength and leadership skills are both difficult to measure and work on. But, Cassidy utilizes assessments to help his clients clearly understand what it is they are working on. Then he provides customized programs with the necessary accountability and support to help improve the client’s overall performance and well-being.
Mental toughness is key to athletes reaching their potential.
The first step is to make it real. One of the main reasons why mental toughness is overlooked is because it is not so tangible — making it unclear what exactly a player is working on and how they can work on it.
So the solution is to assess it with your players. You can assess the main outcome of will they get into the ‘zone’ and then you can breakdown the five pillars of mental toughness:
- Intrinsic Motivation
The second step is to then provide effective strategies. Here are the top strategies we use to strengthen a player’s mental toughness:
- The reset routine: This is teaching athletes about accepting and letting go of distractions and things outside of their control (NOT forgetting about it — that doesn’t work). We want players to develop the self-awareness and the habit to manage their thoughts and emotions so that they can clear their mind.
- Structure reflection: It is important athletes learn to self-reflect and take ownership of their performance and their development. This is crucial for continuous growth and staying in the right mindset.
- Mental preparation: Creating a pre-practice and pre-game routine that works for them. Imagery should be a part of these routines. Check out our free imagery scripts for forwards, defence, and goalies on the Consistent Elite Performance Podcast.
The final step is to nudge them along. This is done by leading by example (managing your own emotions), providing timely reminders to use their strategies (e.g., remember to use your reset routine), and reassessing their mental toughness to see the progress made and to reprioritize areas for growth.
Sign up for Dr. Preston’s FREE Psychology of Coaching Masterclass on Thursday, December 10.
What can be expected in Psychology of Coaching Masterclass
You will learn about three crucial skills in coaching that differentiate the best coaches from the rest:
- How to work with difficult athletes or parents
- How to cultivate a championship culture
- How to strengthen your players’ mental toughness
In the 60-minute masterclass, you will learn how better understanding psychology can increase your impact as a coach and what subtle behaviours you can start integrating into your coaching practice. You will also receive a PDF summary and worksheet.
To register and learn more, click HERE.
4 Mental Toughness Myths Holding You Back From Your Peak Performance
If you’ve ever set goals for your team at the beginning of the season, or encouraged your team to take the floor with confidence, or used visualization before competition then you understand the importance of mental toughness training. Maybe you have even tried to focus on specifically improving your dancers’ mental toughness and researched how to reduce anxiety to give your dancers a competitive edge. So if you believe in goal setting and visualization, why not implement a complete mental toughness training program for your team? I promise, it’s not as scary as you might think.
Let me guess…
You love the idea of a mentally tough team and believe it will give you a competitive edge, but have no idea how to implement it. Your schedule is already packed and there’s no time to add more things to your plate
I get it. Busy coaches like us don’t have an extra second to spend time on anything that doesn’t directly help our team improve and excel on the dance floor. But what if mental toughness training is the one thing holding you back from your peak performance? If you’ve ever felt helpless watching a dancer consistently miss a skill you know she is capable of then you understand how important mental toughness is for dancers. If you’ve ever spent all year training your routine only to have one fluke mistake ruin your chance at a championship then you know what it feels like to wish you had done more. (Believe me, I’ve been there!)
In my experience, there are 4 major myths that keep coaches from implementing a mental toughness training program for their team. Even if they know it will be the difference in the team’s success. I’m going to expose these myths and show you that you are capable of helping your dancers reach their peak performance. You are capable of mental toughness training.
Myth #1: Mental toughness is something you either have or you don’t.
Many coaches notice that some athletes are naturally more resilient to failure or calm under pressure and that leads them to believe their dancers are either mentally tough or they’re not.
Yes, there are some personality traits that make resilience easier and anxiety less likely. However, mental toughness is not an inherited trait that you either have or you don’t. It may take longer for some people to learn mental toughness skills compared to others. But mental toughness is absolutely trainable. The human brain can adapt and change, it’s a phenomenon psychologists call neuroplasticity. It means your brain can learn and revise its strategies, even in adulthood.
So how do you train your brain for mental toughness? There are specific strategies to help you control your thoughts, emotions, and physical arousal. That control allows you to be focused and dialed in during competitions so that you are able to reach your personal peak performance. You can learn mental toughness at any age and any talent level.
Myth #2: I’m not an expert so I can’t teach mental toughness.
While mental toughness is certainly a mental skill, it’s not just about the brain and you don’t have to be an expert. A lot of the power of mental toughness training is in the mind-body connection that it creates. As a dance coach, you understand how to teach physical skills. It’s not a huge leap to talk about the connection between those physical skills and the mind.
To illustrate this connection, take anxiety control for example. When your mind is relaxed, your muscles are relaxed. But similarly, if your body is tense, your mind is also probably full of negative thoughts.
Control one, you can control them both.
Your mind and your body work in tandem and they influence each other. Even if you are only comfortable coaching physical skills, you can teach dancers to use their body to train their mind to relax. Then, when you feel more comfortable, you can also learn to start with your thoughts and control your mind in order to calm your body. Remember the concept of neuroplasticity from myth #1. As a coach, your brain is capable of learning and growing as well. Just as you once learned how to do a pirouette or how to improve your flexibility, you can learn how to improve your mental toughness and teach your dancers to do the same.
Myth #3: Mentally tough people are focused on winning. I just want my dancers to have fun.
Mentally tough dancers are definitely focused on a clear goal in the future. They are often optimistic, future-focused, and driven. But that doesn’t mean they are all about winning. In fact, mentally tough athletes are actually exceptionally good at staying focused in the moment. They are better able to enjoy themselves, and not get caught up in the pressure to win. Coaches who teach mental toughness skills help dancers focus on mastery and learning new skills. They take a challenge head-on as an exciting adventure. Mentally tough dancers have a goal in mind. They may visualize a future as the champion, but they learn to find the fun in the journey. And when you’re having fun, the win is more likely to happen.
Myth #4: The need for mental toughness training is a sign of a weak athlete.
Many coaches believe mental toughness training is only for dancers who have anxiety disorders and find themselves frozen with fear before a competition. Or only for those dancers who have reached a plateau they can’t overcome. In reality, mental toughness training is for everyone, regardless of skill level, competitive experience, and future goals.
Mental toughness training is a chance to improve your skill set. It’s simply a way to advance and showcase the physical skills you have spent so many years training. Think of mental toughness training as an essential piece of the puzzle. No matter what level you are at, you always want to perform your personal best. Mental toughness makes that possible. If you train your mental skills, your technique, whatever level you are at, will be significantly enhanced. You will be more capable of demonstrating your technique when it counts.
Are you ready to take the next step?
Now that you know the 4 mental toughness training myths, I encourage you to take the first step. Step 1 in implementing a successful mental skills training program with your team is to create a goal setting strategy session. To help you do this, I’ve created a cheat sheet for you. “The 5 rookie goal setting mistakes and how to avoid them.”
This cheat sheet will help you design your first (or best) goal setting strategy session with your team. I hope you will be able to get your team started off on the right foot. A good goal setting strategy can improve confidence, enhance skills, and unite a team towards a common purpose. I’ve been goal setting for years both personally and professionally, and I definitely made some big mistakes in the beginning. I want to save you the time and help you do it right the first time. So I’ve compiled a list of my 5 rookie mistakes and how to avoid them!
YOUR Mental Toughness Training Guide [updated 2019]
Mental Toughness Training Put to the Test by:
Welcome to what top business executives, athletes, and coaches are turning to as the internet’s best mental toughness training resource.
My name is Ben Newman and I am a MENTAL CONDITIONING COACH for some of the biggest names in Sports and Business.
First, I want to tell you why I am 100% qualified to educate you on mental toughness and how we have driven results by connecting individuals like YOU to a deeper level of commitment to your PURPOSE and PROCESS.
Performance coaching and mental toughness training is my life!
My current performance coaching and mental toughness training clients include the following:
- Hall of Fame NFL players, All-Pros & Super Bowl Champions
- Fortune 500 CEOs
- National Championship NCAA Football Programs
- Division 1 NCAA Basketball Programs
- UFC World Champions
- Top 1% Financial Advisors in the World
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I don’t tell you this to impress you, but to impress upon the point that I am qualified to help YOU, and that is what I promise to do.
How to Use This Guide
First, this is an incredibly long article and when we wrote it, we were told by so many people that nobody will have the attention span online to read it.
However, we ignored the discouraging words and focused on the end result, which is creating a comprehensive mental toughness resource for those looking for direction on how to improve their life.
This document is a living, breathing resource that we continually update as we learn more through our experiences working with our business, sports, and education clients. I would suggest book marking this and checking back periodically for updates.
Reading through this will provide insight on what I have learned over the years from not only my own struggles and success, but working with peak performers in sports, business, education, and networking with some of the top mental toughness experts in the world.
Understanding Mental Toughness
One of first rules of sports psychology and mental toughness is a requirement to achieve peak performance.
To get mentally tough it’s not just about your physical abilities. Your success will center on changing the way YOU think. And, you can’t change the way you think unless you have direction and most importantly, take action on a daily basis.
It’s about disciplined thinking, one day at a time. Small daily actions repeated over and over again drive immense results!
The biggest challenge for most individuals is tripping on the past and having discipline to endure getting uncomfortable on a consistent basis. We see it all the time. Someone says they are willing to do anything to learn how to become mentally tough, but when faced with the discomfort required, they fold up like a picnic chair.
Anyone who goes through change or adversity in their life will experience turmoil, even when change is positive. It happens to everyone, including those you look up to that are performing at their highest level. To get mentally tough you’re going to be uncomfortable, but this is a critical piece of building mental toughness. Yes, it might suck at times.
While I love working with CEOs and athletes, I’ve found great pleasure in applying the same principles to people in all walks of life, which is the driving reasons I created YOUR Mental Toughness Playbook and our Mental Toughness Academy.
Great Mental Toughness Training Resource.
We have spent thousands of hours training our clients on mental toughness around the world, and have compiled the best articles, most relevant examples, and most importantly, the resources that have contributed to our success.
100% proven mental toughness training concepts.
Your Success Depends on Your Commitment to Mental Strength Training
I challenge those I work with to view this journey as continuous mental strength training… a path to building their mental muscle.
What’s interesting about building mental toughness is that it’s just like building your muscles. When you work at it consistently, you will see a change in your body. When you don’t workout, you’ll see your body fat percentage change and your strength decrease over time.
Building mental toughness is exactly the same. It’s an all the time thing to maintain a peak mental mindset.
It’s about how they respond to adversity to achieve greatness and performance; how they attain belief in themselves.
We too often hold on to things we can’t control. You have to learn over time to connect with a process to drive results and alleviate pressure. When you learn to control the things within your control, you learn to control your mindset which is a major step in building mental toughness.
Yes, building mental toughness is very much learned, and we’re going to cover ton of details here and provide YOU with some amazing resources to get started.
Are YOU ready to take it to the next level, to get mentally tough?
What is Mental Toughness?
It depends on who you ask to define mental toughness.
I recently read an article from a respected industry leader, and she had come up with almost 20 ways to define mental toughness. All were solid suggestions; it would be hard to argue with any of them.
But, something bothered me, so I tried to put myself in the shoes of a person reading that article.
At first glance at the list, my initial thought was, “wow, I’ve got to master almost 20 unique skills in order to be mentally tough.”
That was my non-mentally tough response.
However, my sense was that most people would react the same way to this long list
Journey to building mental toughness is intoxicating
What if a teaching golf professional told new players to the game, at the start of their first lesson, that they had to master 20 skills in order to be successful at golf.
How many would stick with it?
However, the few that would take the challenge would understand that while they don’t today have many of the skills, the challenge of building mental toughness by achieving some or, maybe, all of those skills would be an intoxicating journey they simply could not turn down.
An experience that would change the course of their life forever assuming they stuck with it under all circumstances.
That’s the person who will be energized; someone who refuses to believe they can’t define mental toughness for themselves.
They looked at this long list of attributes to get mentally tough, and realized most of the challenges will be above the shoulders. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you!
Mental toughness is the difference between good and great leaders
It’s the power of positive thinking.
It’s calmness under fire.
If your ability to learn how to perform under extreme pressure, build self esteem, create an environment of respect for yourself, and endure under any and all circumstances in your life.
Legendary Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi put it simple:
“It is a perfectly disciplined state of mind that refuses to give in.”
Peak performers—pro athletes, business leaders, coaches, high school athletes—don’t settle just to achieve one goal. They are constantly trying to raise the bar of achievement.
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Accept the truth and get mentally tough
I believe your success will be measured on your ability to get up when knocked down. There are five core things that I live by that will help you build your foundation.
Accept the truth
Realize and identify the person you are. What is truth of your situation? You have to be honest with yourself.
Speak the truth
Putting it out there. Often, that means working with a coach or a mentor that will push you to peak performance. I’ve had business coaches for more than decade to help me get to next level. To this day I use my coaches to help me reframe when times are tough.
Breathe through the truth
Being calm in the face of pressure or stress in not just mind over matter. I’ve learned a breathing technique called 6, 2, 7: Inhale for six seconds, hold for two, and exhale for seven. It is an amazing technique for athletes, but it works in any situation of high stress
Process the truth
You have to process truth where you currently are. Don’t expect to be perfect. Take your time. Old behaviors will often come into your realm as you attempt to make this change. To get mentally tough, you must silence the voice on your shoulder telling you to stray from where you are. You have power to silence that voice.
Create a plan based up truth
Take look at past successes, whether in the boardroom or on stage. What were your behaviors like? What made you successful? Think big. Think of mental strength training as something you have to work on every day. Create your plan based on where you currently are.
How to Develop Mental Toughness
Building mental toughness is often confused with working hard. Or, working long hours. Or, taking on more projects than you can realistically handle.
A head fake if I’ve ever seen one.
So, what is mental toughness?
Mental toughness isn’t about putting yourself in stressful situations.
Building mental toughness is about how you handle stressful and difficult situations. It might be losing your job. Or, losing a big client. It could be losing someone close to you.
Foundation for developing mental toughness spans all walks of life
I’ve scoured the Internet learning how others teach mental toughness training. While their lists of 4,5 8, or even 18 things always have a unique twist or two, the foundation is the same.
Athletes often say, “I hate to lose.” We all know what they mean by that, but I see that as negative thinking that does not put them in the best place for developing mental toughness. I’ve seen others call this visualization, and that’s a great term as well. Golfers visualize the flight of their ball. Business leaders visualize how they will influence those by a presentation. The great ones focus on what they are going to do, not what they aren’t going to do.
Learn the power to reframe
Whether it was my mother reframing her life to focus on her family, not her disease, or Coach Bill Belichick reframing how the New England Patriots were going to play in the second half of the 2017 Super Bowl, greatness is often defined by those who find ways to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. A nature photographer friend once told me some of his greatest photos came when he simply turned around on the trail or on the mountain. He reframed, literally and figuratively.
Continually test yourself
Mental toughness is by and large learned and to master it means you have to do mental strength training every day. Every day! I have goals for my activities. I strive to exceed what I’m asked to do, however that’s not a goal. Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is the athletic equivalent of moving the high jump bar 6 inches above your personal best. That will test your ability to think positive.
Be where your feet are
This concept is amazing in so many ways. Stay in the moment. Focus on what you’re doing and knock it out of the park. For most of us, our days are filled with activities… often over-filled. We lose sight of the forest for the tress, doing our best to get the activities completed rather than get them completed spectacularly. When you’re at the gym, be there 100%. When you’re with your family, be there 100%.
Attain believe in yourself
Identifying with the person you are today is the first step to becoming the person you want to be. Great salespeople view sales they couldn’t close as simply opportunities their clients weren’t ready for. They don’t see it as failure; they see it as part of developing mental toughness. Belief in yourself comes through speaking the truth about yourself. Only then can you begin the journey to a new you.
Here’s the good news: how to develop mental toughness is 100% within your control. You just need to get fired up and attack the process!
Mental Toughness for Sports
Mental toughness training is a core ingredient in sports organizations and over the last 10 years, I have had the privilege to work on mental toughness with some of the top sports organizations in the world!
A large portion of my business involves athletes at all levels, from the NFL to the NCAA to the smallest of the small just starting their sporting career in middle and high school.
What’s great about how I teach building mental toughness is that the foundation is identical for a 6-year-old playing baseball or a 10-year veteran in the NFL.
I love this quote from Eddie Jones, coach of the England International Rugby Team in an interview with The New York Times
“Mental toughness is your ability to keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing regardless of a situation, regardless of whether you’re physically or mentally fatigued. High-level sport is uncomfortable. We try to teach the players to be to be comfortable at being uncomfortable.”
That is the essence of how to build mental toughness, not just in sports, but in every facet of your life.
While there are many, many different definitions of mental toughness for sports, I found an excellent, to-the-point summation from Andrew Hamilton which I love:
- “Achieve relatively consistent performances regardless of situational factors;”
- “Retain a confident, positive, optimistic outlook, even when things are not going well, and not ‘choke’ under pressure;”
- “Deal with distractions without letting them interfere with optimal focus;”
- “Tolerate pain and discomfort;”
- “Remain persistent when the ‘going gets tough’;”
- “Have the resilience to bounce back from disappointments.”
What I like about Hamilton’s list for how to build mental toughness is its emphasis on behavior and how it impacts achievement.
I preach daily behaviors!
Hamilton focuses on how athletes respond when, as he calls it, “the going gets tough.” It’s not so much about what happens to an athlete; it’s more about how they choose react.
For example, how do you react to what you perceive to be a bad call by an official?
Or, how do you react to being behind in a tennis match? Much of this answer goes back to your mental toughness training.
Hamilton goes further on mental toughness for sports:
“Most top athletes and coaches believe that psychological factors play as crucial a role as physical attributes and learned skills in the make-up of champions,” Hamilton writes. “When physical skills are evenly matched – as they tend to be in competitive sport – the competitor with greater control over his or her mind will usually emerge as the victor. Mental strength is not going to compensate for lack of skill, but in close contests it can make the difference between winning and losing.”
The reasons winners consistently win is because they have the mental mindset to stay focused on the activities that drive winning.
How to Develop Mental Toughness in Sports
What I love about what I do is that I work with so many amazing athletes in the NFL, MLB, NCAA and PGA.
Each sport requires specific skills and conditioning, which makes my job both challenging and extremely satisfying.
I wanted to dive deeper into a few sports that, collectively, I think will provide you an excellent framework for how to develop mental toughness in sports.
Here’s a look at mental toughness training in sports.
Mental Toughness for Runners
Running: Mental toughness is about mindset and visualization
World-class runners have mastered the physical piece of the sport. Where winners are separated from the rest is their mental strength training. Following are five tips from Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter to help you get and maintain a mental edge:
- “Create your performing edge toughness mindset. For the proper toughness mindset, the right internal state must be created first. The appropriate internal state can bridge the gap between what you think you can accomplish and what you actually achieve.”
- “Build a mentally tough outlook. Direct your focus to what is possible, to what can happen, toward success. If you want to be a mentally tough runner, focus on what you can control: Your thoughts, emotions, training form, and how you perceive each situation. Positive energy makes peak performances possible.”
- “Visualize mental toughness every day. Take 10 or 15 minutes each day to mentally rehearse your running mental toughness goals. Put yourself in a relaxed state through deep abdominal breathing. Then, as vividly as possible, create an image in your mind of what you want to achieve in your running. You can produce a replay of one of your top mentally tough performances in the past. Then carry all those positive feelings of self-confidence, energy and strength into your mental practice for an upcoming event.”
- “Create a relaxed focus. Work toward maintaining concentration for longer periods of time. You can tune into what is critical to your performance and tune out what is not. You can easily let go of distractions and take control of your attention. As you focus more on the direct task in front of you (your stride form, how you are feeling, etc.), there will be less room for the negative thoughts.”
- “Use power words for mental toughness. Try repeating these phrases for your running mental toughness before your next event:
I stay positive and mentally tough no matter what happens
I project confidence and energy
Going fast feels effortless
I am in my element; I am fully engaged in my running
I am tuned into what I am doing each moment
I fully enjoy every part of my workout
I am physically relaxed and mentally focused
I am a strong, mentally tough runner”
Mental Toughness for Golfers
Practice mental toughness, golf training is just as difficult
Is there a more frustrating and difficult sport than golf?
Those that don’t play can’t understand how hitting a ball that doesn’t move can be so hard.
Golf has brought the best of us to our knees, both physically and emotionally.
Mental toughness training for golfers is definitely a must! 🙂
Mental toughness golf definition: Act like a winner!
In her article for Let’s Reach Success, Lidiya Kin hit on a critical element of mental toughness: Act like a winner.
Her point focused on body language and how it can affect your mental state in building mental toughness. “Act strong and you can convince your mind that you are strong enough to deal with the pressure,” Kin wrote. “Acting strong is not the same as being a bully or being unapproachable on the golf course. It means:
- “Straighten your back. A fine posture reduces the release of cortisol. It automatically helps you shrug off stress and progress like a champion. Walking the tour talk only means straightening your back, squaring your shoulders and smiling often.”
- “It’s okay to be afraid. Bravery isn’t lack of fear. It’s overcoming fear. Take that churning gut, understand it and use it to your advantage. Knowing what you fear helps you prepare against it.”
- “Make it a habit. Mental toughness is not developed overnight unless you find it the hard way. On the golf course, you have to toil every day to build this mindset. Once you develop the mental strength for golf course, you will be able to summon it even in life. So, go on, break the wheel of doubt and feel liberated on the golf course as in life.”
Tiger Woods Comeback is a Great Example of Mental Toughness
The best example of acting like a winner is hands down Tiger Woods. His most recent example of taking this concept to the extreme would be his 14 year gap between winning the Masters.
Until 4/4/19, Tiger Woods had not won a green jacket since 2005 and most people were convinced he was at the end of his career. All of that changed on the afternoon of 4/4/2019 when Tiger Woods became the 2019 Masters Champion!
Since 2005, Tiger Woods hasn’t changed his attitude, he’s only changed his focus.
If something wasn’t working for him, he didn’t give up, he just changed his game and focused on mastering it. Clearly this approach helped him become the most memorable comeback in professional sports.
Can you imagine spending the next 14 years getting yourself back to the very best you ever were in your life?
Do you have any idea of the amount of mental toughness it takes to accomplish what Tiger did?
- How many times did he get back to the range and practice his swing?
- How many rounds of golf did he play?
- How many hours did he spend in the gym?
- How many coaches was he working with?
- What did he sacrifice in his life to stay focused on becoming the best?
These are all things that peak performers have in common, the ability to make things happen with extreme discipline!
Mental toughness, tennis inseparable
It’s easy to lose sight of strategy in tennis when it moves so fast. And, that pace of play requires significant mental strength training to be able to handle situations that can change in seconds.
In an article in Optimum Tennis, the author provides several excellent tips to help players of all levels manage the mental game:
- “Positive Self-Talk (during the match). Talking to your self during a match can improve mental toughness. For example, if you are not following through on your strokes during matches, you might say to yourself “Don’t stop. Follow through”. Experiment with phrases until you’ve discovered ones that work for you in overpowering your negative subconscious inner voice, which is controlling your mind, and your play.”
- “Staying in the Moment (Be where your feet are). Often, particularly during a significant match, we dwell on the errors we make, the points we miss. We focus on what we’re doing wrong in a match and end up frustrating ourselves even more. We, in essence, mentally beat ourselves up until our concentration falters, and we are no longer functioning to our ability. But with a minimum of 120 points per match, why worry about each one missed? You can’t change previous shots, so forget about them, and play one point at a time.”
- “Never Give-Up Mentality. Adversity will occur in just about every tennis match you play. The best act of mental toughness for tennis is to never surrender, never retreat — that is, keep playing with a winning, positive attitude, point by point, until the last point has been played. Don’t let negative thoughts of defeat cloud your judgment and affect your play.”
Baseball, mental toughness, both built on focus, patience and confidence.
The great thing about teaching mental toughness training in sports is that the principles apply at all ages. Baseball is a sport kids start at a very early age, and often they are well-coached on the mental aspects.
Author Bill Cole, who was the Sport Psychology Coach for the Stanford University baseball team when it was ranked #1 in the nation, uses five simple, but powerful strategies to drive mental toughness in players:
- “Learn to Control Your Focus:The most important part of baseball mental toughness is attentional control. Where you place your focus, in what way, and for how long is key. You need to learn how to choose the appropriate attentional cues so you keep your mind tuned in, not out.”
- “Keep Your Mind in The Here and Now:Good baseball is played one pitch at a time. Do that and your mind stays in the moment, the now. One way to facilitate that is to have breath focus. The mental game of baseball helps you learn how to find your breath, track it, and allow it to center and focus you.”
- “Stay Poised and Patient:You want to play aggressive baseball, but you also need to remain self-aware, and tuned in to what is happening around you. This is vital to being a plugged-in player who makes things happen. The mental game of baseball helps you develop this fine-tuned personal awareness.”
- “Develop Confidence and Self-Belief:If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Everyone around you can tell you how good you are, but if you discount this encouragement, it will never enter your head and heart. The mental game of baseball helps you build an inside-out foundation of self-approval so your confidence flows.”
- “Use Mental Rehearsal:Get a competitive advantage with your mind by playing the game in advance, using visualization. Go to the movies in your mind and mentally rehearse what you will be doing in competition. You can plan for contingencies, problems, or map out your strategy and see yourself winning before you actually do it. The baseball mental toughness game helps you use your imagination to great effect.”
Not surprisingly, the tips and techniques used across sports are, for the most part, identical.
Can Mental Toughness Be Taught?
Absolutely, some just embrace it more than others.
It’s taught every day all around the world by parents, business leaders, coaches, squad leaders, and just about anyone who faces a daunting task or leads a team toward a lofty goal.
But, mental strength training is not teaching in the traditional sense. Teaching math, for example, is built on known concepts that apply to many of life’s opportunities. We can figuratively touch and feel the impact of math. For the most part, it’s a straight line between two points.
Football team shows us all how to get mentally tough
Building mental toughness… it seldom happens in a straight line. I was watching a college football game recently and the home team was up 31-7 in the second quarter over a team most thought was evenly-matched. I was guessing the final score might be 70-7 in the end. Well, two hours later the visitors kicked a field goal to win 38-37, on the road in front of 60,000 fans rooting against them.
What we heard the next day was that near the end of the first half the players came together as a unit and “agreed” that how things were going wasn’t going to cut it. What we saw from that point to the end of the game was a different team. Were the Xs and Os that much better? Did the coaches have some secrets tucked away that they were holding back? No.
This was a motivated group of young men digging deep into themselves and summoning all they learned from years of mental toughness drills both on and off the practice field. They played like the winners their coaches have told them they are many times.
Could this comeback reflect of what they’ve been taught from many coaches over the years? 100%.
Is there a textbook I can send you? Unfortunately, no.
Can mental toughness be taught? With football players, no question about it!
Building mental toughness through grit is a differentiator at West Point.
Another mental toughness expert I often follow is James Clear, a behavioral psychologist who specializes in personal improvement and building mental toughness.
His article—The Science of Developing Mental Toughness—concludes that research has shown that intelligence accounts for only 30% of personal achievement. What makes the most impact on achievement is mental toughness, what he calls “grit”.
Clear used results from a study by Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania on incoming cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Each year the academy accepts approximately 1,300 new cadets. During their first summer on campus they must complete a number of difficult tasks, some you might consider extreme. One of them is called “Beast Barracks,” a test that stretches individuals physically, emotionally and mentally.
Looking across two classes of 2,441 cadets, the research found that the “Grit Scale”—the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals—was the ultimate determining factor in whether or not they finished Beast Barracks.
Here’s what she found according to Clear:
“It wasn’t strength or smarts or leadership potential that accurately predicted whether or not a cadet would finish Beast Barracks,” Clear wrote. “Instead, it was grit — the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals — that made the difference.
“In fact, cadets who were one standard deviation higher on the Grit Scale were 60% more likely to finish Beast Barracks than their peers. It was mental toughness that predicted whether or not a cadet would be successful, not their talent, intelligence, or genetics.”
What I would love to know is the backgrounds of those cadets who finished Beast Barracks
I would wager they had a long history of mental strength training and an up close and personal knowledge of mental toughness drills.
Can mental toughness be taught? I’d say the U.S. Military is doing something right!
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Favorite Mental Toughness Quotes
Our generation didn’t invent mental toughness. The thought of being more than you think you can be, to achieve beyond your wildest imagination, has been at the front of great minds for centuries.
As I’ve studied how the mind can do wondrous things, I’ve run across many truly insightful quotes on mental toughness. Let’s look at some of my favorites.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
We all know who Eleanor Roosevelt was, but there’s not enough room in this article to list all she accomplished in support of women’s rights, civil rights, human rights and, yes, politics. She actively pressed the United States to join the United Nations and became our first delegate.
There are many great role models for how to get mentally though … she is near the top.
“Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.” — T. Harv Eker
“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” — T. Harv Eker
After losing millions in the demise of a chain of fitness stores he founded, T. Harv Eker looked deep inside himself and others who had failed in big fashion, to develop the theories he speaks about today. Eker believes we each have a “financial blueprint” that is the roadmap to accumulate wealth. Eker writes that many people play the role of a victim and deny that they have control over their success.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, did so many things to help our country better understand itself in its early years. Beyond all the writing, lectures and sayings, what I find most intriguing—and most revealing—about Mark Twain was that many years after having field for bankruptcy, he made a second fortune and repaid every creditor back.
“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Edison must have spent a lot of time astounding himself. His unlimited imagination was central to what we now call the Industrial Revolution. He was one of the first to apply mass production concepts to inventions. He didn’t just invent, he produced.
It’s inspiring to read quotes on mental toughness that go back centuries. Just goes to show you how strong of a foundation mental toughness has been at every point in our history.
Why Mental Toughness is Important
To be successful. To be happy. To be fulfilled.
I recently read an article from Mental Toughness Partners where they reported research on the impact of mental toughness on individual performance:
- “It explains up to 25% of the variance in individual performance.:
- “Mentally tough people have better attendance, handle stress better, are less likely to develop mental health issues, and they sleep better.”
- “Mentally tough people are “can do” kinds of people. They respond positively to change and stress, they gladly accept responsibility and volunteer for new assignments and activities.”
- “Mentally tough people are more aspirational. Simply put, they are more ambitious and are better prepared to handle risk.”
Harvey Mackay wrote recently about the definition of mental toughness from a study in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology: “There are many characteristics that contribute to mental toughness. It all starts with training and preparation. If you aren’t prepared to do your job, you have no chance.
“The will to succeed is preceded by the will to prepare.”
Nothing happens without a plan when building mental toughness.
Spending much of my business career in sales, I have heard this statement a lot: Nothing happens without a sale. While true, it oversimplifies the point I think it was trying to make, which is: Nothing happens without a plan.
Your desire to get mentally tough begins with a plan. It’s not enough to say you will “be successful.” Or, rich. Or, smart.
One of my favorite sayings captures the importance of the point about a plan: If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
Michael Phelps and Spitz: Personification of How to Get Mentally Tough
I’m positive Michael Phelps’ goal was not to win a gold medal in swimming
His goal was to win 15 or 20 (he won 18), and to be considered the greatest swimmer of all time.
In an interview in 2008 in the New York Daily News, when asked the outcome of a duel with Phelps in his prime, Spitz said this: “I think the relationship between people that are great is they have a common thread of knowing how to beat their competitors and they know how to constantly be in shape and in top form. If that’s the case, I’d know everything about how to beat Michael,” Spitz said. “He’d also know everything to beat me. We’d have to tie.”
At the time, Spitz was 58.
Can mental toughness be taught? Olympic swimmers seem to have cracked the code.
And, it sounds like he hasn’t lost a bit of his mental toughness at 58.
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Mental Toughness and Navy SEALs
This is easily one of the most popular topics when it comes to learning about top mental toughness examples.
The Navy SEALs are the role model for how to get mentally tough
They have to endure unbelievable stress, both physically and mentally, to complete their jobs. And…
They put themselves in harm’s way (as do all of our military people)!
Much has been written about the physical hurdles a man must endure to become a SEAL and successfully make it through the physical and mental battle of BUD/S training.
What struck me as I dug under the hood of SEAL training is that repetition under highly-stressful situations is at the core of being able to physically withstand situations the rest of us can only imagine.
Practice, practice, practice. And, then practice more and practice harder. And lastly, practice like you play.
A perfect example of this is SEALs training with live ammo.
I recently read the Dichotomy of Leadership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. One of the most impactful stories told in that book was when they were training for missions in Ramadi and some of their team members complained the training wasn’t fair
They stated the soldiers they were fighting against weren’t as equipped as the SEALs and by tricking the team during training was unfair.
Leif went on to explain how it’s the only way to truly prepare because the enemy is unpredictable.
The mindset of training in the most extreme conditions is at the heart of the success of the SEALs and the mental strength to endure such training is at an all time high.
It’s no wonder they can operate under such extreme pressures not only while serving, but also as business owners and community leaders.
Adding stress to training will help you get mentally tough
I found recently a very interesting article by Stew Smith on military.com. Stew is a former Navy SEAL, a well-known strength and conditioning specialist and an expert on building mental toughness. He wrote an article focused on Navy SEAL mental toughness that I thought captured the reality of what it takes to become and survive as a Navy SEAL.
“I believe that in athletics especially, that through tough workouts you will build mental toughness. Physiologically your body will start to buffer lactate better IF given the stimulus to do so – meaning we will physically adapt to get in better shape and our muscles will fail later and later and later until you can surpass perceived limitations,” Stew wrote. “In a military environment, this method has been known to work, BUT adding training under stress, hunger, and fatigue will only enhance performance on the battlefield. I guess the only saying, “The more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in war” applies to this philosophy.”
Stew went on to write about the role of Navy SEAL mental toughness conditioning, always straddling that fine line between pain and injury. He would do high reps of pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, and running and swimming for miles to help him create increased energy levels.
“You really have to get the body to know what pain is before you can endure it longer” Stew wrote.
Building mental toughness is mind over matter.
I found another fascinating article on navyseals.com that was re-published from Men’s Health. The title was “Fear and Mental Toughness”.
The article concluded (and supported what Stew was saying) that the more you’re exposed to something you initially fear, the less you will fear it and ultimately become immune to it… you’ll get used to it and significantly raise your chances to get mentally tough.
“This is mind over matter situation,” Sergeant Bill Cullen of the First Battalion of the Fourth Marines said in the article. “Essentially, you’re bending the body’s software to control its hardware. It works standing over a putt on the 18th green. It works shooting a final-second free throw. It works banging down a door with a bad guy on the other side.”
Navy SEAL’s primary weapon systems today are people’s heads
The next quote probably won’t surprise you.
“Graduating as a SEAL is not all about being physically fit,” Lieutenant Commander Mike H of executive officer of SEAL Team 10, said in the article. “Today, our primary weapons systems are our people’s heads. You want to excel in all the physical areas, but the physical is just a prerequisite to be a SEAL. Mental weakness is what actually screens you out.”
Mental weakness is what screens you out!
So, while the physical component has to be there, the overriding conclusion I came away with was that ultimate success as a SEAL or as an Olympian or as a corporate CEO is more about decision making and how that allows you to do your job at the top of your profession.
Can mental toughness be taught? I’d say most people would agree that the seals continue to write the teachings for mental toughness.
Mental Toughness Exercises
There is no magic recipe—no specific mental toughness drills—to “train” for mental toughness. In my research, I found interesting and very different ways a well-known strength and conditioning expert and a 23-year veteran of the FBI approaches her clients.
LaRae Quy spent 23 years in counterintelligence with the FBI working in what she described as an environment of risk, uncertainty and deception. She spoke with writer Justin Bariso in an article titled “An FBI agent’s 5 steps to Developing Mental Toughness” for Inc. magazine.
- “Develop emotional awareness. You have to understand what makes you tick and learn to control it. Anger can be positive, but not when it ends in a fit of rage. She said law enforcement officers are trained to observe people around them whether in a store, restaurant or at a sporting event. Their challenge is to figure out their stories: their occupation, what they’re thinking and even their mood. This simple focused-awareness drill as she calls it can work in any environment to help you better understand the person or group you want to reach.”
- “Commit to pushing through your limits. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Change is not always bad. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong or bad with your situation, tell yourself it is just temporary and see the benefits.”
- “Focus on controlling your mind. We become what we think. And, for many people, what they think is often self-limiting and only serves to wire your brain in the wrong way.”
- “Focus, focus, focus. My favorite. This is about focusing physical and mental energy. Athletes at every level use this to raise their game to a higher level. They practice with a laser-focused goal (shouldn’t we all be doing that?) but they do it with structure:
- Break down tasks into their key parts.
- Spend extra time on actions you find especially difficult.
- Get feedback, and adjust accordingly.
- Put your ego on the backburner.
- Keep your goals in front of you.”
- “Pursue and live a life focused on growth. The mentally tough are learners. They are voracious readers. They are constantly in a mode of continuous improvement. They realize mistakes are not failures, but simply opportunities to learn. And, ultimately, to become supremely confident.”
Motivation at the heart of building mental toughness.
Sean Hyson is a well-known strength and conditioning coach, and an expert on building mental toughness and mental toughness drills. For a story in Men’s Fitness magazine, Sean spoke with several experts and compiled an interesting list of ways to improve your mental toughness.
- “Be a self-starter. “The root of building mental toughness lies in motivation,” Sean writes. He highlights two opposing mentalities that can drive a person to be tough. Both exist in us all, but we likely lean to one. First are those dominated by motivation to succeed… they excel when great opportunity lies ahead. The second type are those motivated to avoid failure (this is not my favored type). These folks get going when their egos are threatened. Either way, your ability to motivate yourself is critical to mental toughness.”
- “Find your zone. World-class athletes respond to race stress with a reduction in brain-wave activity similar to meditation,” said Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., a strength conditioning coach and triathlete. “The average person responds to race stress with an increase in brain-wave activity that borders on panic. The great athletes, or business people, or school teachers are able to ‘get in the zone’—a cool-headed state that allows them to perform optimally, even in high-pressure conditions. They train their brains.”
- “Be positive. This is mind over matter. If you even think you can’t finish a marathon,” Cosgrove says, “you can’t. Cosgrove recommends creating a mission statement—a goal or objective—that gets you pumped up. Take the time to consider why you’re running that marathon, gaining 10 pounds of muscle or whatever it is that you’ve challenged yourself with. If you have a powerful reason why, you can get through anything.”
- “Talk to yourself. Be your own coach. If you’re running that marathon, tell yourself you’re going to give it everything you have, says Cosgrove. “Learning to talk positively to yourself when the going gets tough takes practice, but you’ll get better at it. Then, on race day (or whatever your particular challenge is), you’ll be able to talk yourself into a second wind.”
- “Visualize. I am a huge believer in visualizing, no matter if you’re an athlete or a speaker,” said Joe Stankowski, C.P.T., a former powerlifting and strongman competitor: “Your set should be mentally done. Imagine the steps you’ll take to get into position and the way your body will look performing the movement, and rehearse each repetition in your mind. Think about how all that will feel to you. Because it’s already been done in your mind,” says Stankowski. “All you have to do is repeat it with your body.”
- “Meditate. Many of my clients find this very hard to do,” Stankowski says. “Find a place where you can clear your mind and relax to mentally prepare for your upcoming challenge. If you struggle I suggest you reach out to an expert.”
- “Get uncomfortable. Routines are the enemy of getting uncomfortable,” Sean writes. “If you’re trying to be a tougher runner, then a couple of times a month you need to practice running a little longer or faster than you’re used to. These workouts should be at random—put your running shoes on one day and decide you’re going to take it to the limit. The same logic applies to the weight room and life in general.”
- “Be prepared. Success doesn’t always come to the best athlete,” Sean writes. “Endurance athletes have a saying: ‘Nothing new on race day,’ Meaning if you’ve prepared yourself for everything, you’ll be ready for anything. You should know well ahead of a race what you are going to eat, wear, and even think about that day. Naturally, you can’t be prepared for every eventuality, but try to be anyway. Anticipate any problems that could arise, and have a solution in mind.” Cosgrove, the great runner, says: “Knowing you have done everything possible to get to your goal will help you mentally. When it comes to the event you are training for, you can go into it with peace of mind. Once you have that, you’ll be surprised by just how far you can go.”
Can mental toughness be taught? Again, practicing the exercises we just reviewed is proof that if you put in the time and work, yes, mental toughness can be taught.
Mental Toughness Test
Unlike sports, the game of building mental toughness does not have a scoreboard.
It is not an absolute.
Testing “abilities” such as aptitude, intelligence and personality traits is a slippery slope. Mental toughness falls into this type of measurement in the field of psychometrics.
We’re not the only company to develop a mental toughness test, but ours is one of the easiest and quickest to complete in order to give you an instant look at your level of mental toughness. Plus, it’s free and you can get results immediately.
The test is very quick. You rate yourself across 8 categories and assign yourself a score between 1 and 5. Once complete, you add up your scores which classify you in the following levels.
- Peak Performer
- Mentally Tough
- Opportunity for Growth
Based on your mental toughness pre-assessment, our course walks you through the exact steps you need to take to improve. These are the same concepts we use while working with our clients in the NFL, NCAA and PGA.
Other tests that measure mental toughness
There are some other organizations that have dug deep into the subject as well, one of those being AQR International in the United Kingdom.
Numerous case studies from around the world show that Mental Toughness is a major factor in:
- Performance: explaining up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals
- Positive Behavior: more engaged, more positive, more “can do”
- Wellbeing: more contentment, better stress management, less prone to bullying
- Aspirations: more ambitious, prepared to manage more risk
According to the AQR, most psychometrics focus on the measurement of behaviors (how we act) and attributes (how we feel). Mental toughness looks at how we think, which is a key driver for the development of behavior and attributes for how to build mental toughness.
Below is a chart developed by AQR which highlights the 4Cs and how each is assessed in the test:
|Mental Toughness Scale||What This Means…|
|Control||Life: I believe in myself more than others believe in me.|
|Emotional: I always manage my emotions and the emotions of others.|
|Commitment||Setting Goals: I promise to do it – I like working to goals.|
|Achieving: I’ll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals.|
|Challenge||Taking Risks: I will push myself because I am driven to succeed.|
|Learning: Every situation holds an opportunity to learn.|
|Confidence||In Abilities: I have the skills to do it or will acquire the skills.|
|Interpersonal: I can influence others and stand my ground if needed.|
Another good mental toughness test I’ve come across is through Mental Toughness Partners. They have a different spin on the 4 C’s.
- “Control means having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent to which a person feels in control of their life and their circumstances. Importantly it also describes the extent to which they can control the display of their emotions. A Mentally Tough person will usually just “get on with it” irrespective of how they feel and their positive approach can often lift the spirits of those around them.”
- “Commitment is about goal orientation and ‘stickability’ and describes the extent to which someone is prepared to set goals for what they need to do and make measurable promises that, once made, they will work hard to deliver.”“Control and Commitment taken together are what most people mean when they think of resilience and they are indeed a solid response to adversity. But resilience is largely a passive quality and is only one part of building mental toughness.”
- “Challenge describes the extent to which the individual will push back their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk. It’s also about how they see all outcomes – good and bad. Mentally Tough people view challenges, change and adversity as opportunities rather than threats and will relish the chance to learn and grow in the new and hitherto unknown situation. Someone whose challenge score is high will typically enjoy new places, new people, innovation and creativity.”
- “Confidence completes the picture and describes the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities and the interpersonal confidence they have to influence others and deal with conflict and challenge. When faced with a challenge, mentally tough people scoring high in confidence, will possess the self-belief to deal with the situation and the inner strength to stand their ground when needed. Their confidence enables them to represent their view boldly and be comfortable in handling objections.”
Sports Psychology and Mental Toughness
As I stated in another section of this article, building mental toughness doesn’t have a scoreboard. There are no winners and losers.
So much of success in building mental toughness, whether in your personal life, business or sports, comes from what I like to describe as from the neck up. I’ve spent a great deal of time with athletes at the highest level, from the NFL to the NCAA. And, when you line them up, physically they are all gifted. In football we stress over the difference in a player who runs a 4.45 40-yard dash and one who runs a 4.55.
Ten one-hundredths of a second. But, the real question is how do they think? How do they process information? How well do they play with pain? That one-tenth of a second may be meaningless if the slower player is strong above the shoulders.
There are many examples in every sport where the ultimate winners were neither the fastest or strongest. They are able to muster the mental and emotional toughness to perform at levels that most observers would say are above their capabilities.
In a great article by Sally Tamarkin titled “It’s All in Their Heads: The Mental Edge of Athletes Who Win,” Tarmarkin interviews some amazing athletes I’m sure most of you reading this have never heard of, and they all agree on the role of mental toughness in their success.
Samantha Gash, Ultra-Endurance Runner: On controlling her mind under harsh conditions: “I try to focus my mind on the positive of competing. When I’m in immense physical pain, I try to dull the pain as much as possible. Once the pain enters your head (as opposed to just your body), you start to legitimize ways of pulling out. I distract myself by thinking about why I’m doing it. My body and mind are stronger than I’d ever think.”
Jesse Thomas, Long Course Triathlete: On the mantras and mental tricks that give physical kicks: “In a half ironman, I’m out there for four hours. I can have a bad 20 or 30 minutes, come out of it, and still have a pretty awesome race. I have go-to mantras. It’s really dorky. ‘You’re kicking ass!’ ‘You’re killin’ it!’ I say them out loud, almost yelling them. I’ve found that the more physical you can make them, [the better]—you’re not only saying them, you’re hearing them, too, which makes a difference. Also, a mental kick that always gives me a physical kick is interacting with the crowd in some way. When I say “Thank you!” [to someone cheering on the sidelines] or give someone a high five, I feel like I can literally feel tangible energy connecting from those people to me.”
There are many great books and resources regarding sport psychology and building mental toughness in the next section.
Top Mental Toughness Books
In my travels around the world I have met so many amazing people who have given their lives to helping others in their journey to building mental toughness. Below are just a few books that provide excellent insight and lasting value for athletes, business people and anyone who wants to be mentally tough.
Own Your Success, Ben Newman
What if you could make each and every day victorious by focusing on daily activities rather than obsessing over results that you can’t control? Based on author Ben Newman’s popular program, Own YOUR Success gives you the power to make each day a triumph. The most successful people find great success when they focus on having a passion for the process. The key: make today victorious regardless of the obstacles that come your way. Figure out what fires YOU up without exception and ignite that passion so that you can routinely create your prizefighter day. The book offers original, practical, and proven exercises to transform challenges into maximum performance.
10-Minute Toughness, Dr. Jason Selk
10-Minute Toughness is your personal coach for boosting brainpower and achieving a competitive edge in whatever game you play. With quickness and ease, you’ll learn how to master your own mind and psych out your opponents using personalized techniques from one of America’s most successful sport psychology consultants. Like no other program available, the 10-Minute Toughness routine gets you ready for the competition in just ten minutes a day (Amazon review).
Grit, Angela Duckworth
Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of “genius,” Duckworth, describes her hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance. She takes readers into the field to visit cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance (Amazon review).
Mindset, Carol Dweck
Dweck shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment (Amazon review).
Dichotomy of Leadership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Jocko and Leif reflect on their time as Navy SEAL leaders during the war in Iraq. What’s great about this book is that it dives deep into operational details that highlight the mindset of a Navy SEAL not only in a leadership position, but their mental toughness. One example I loved in this book was the story when the SEAL team was stuck in a concrete room with an IED blocking their only exit. The solution they came up with was breaking through the concrete wall with a sledge hammer. The SEALs traded swings until they broke a hole big enough for the entire team to exit the building safely. The mindset of the SEALs is unbelievably powerful and a testament to the power of consistent mental toughness training.
Getting mentally tough will help you in many ways:
- Build immense self confidence
- Helps you learn how to command respect in a situation
- Turns discomfort into comfort
- Strengthens your resilience in any situation
- Build a winning attitude
I know this was a long read, but I commend you for getting through it. As you can tell, Mental Toughness is a topic I’m wildly passionate about.
I have been on the winning side of mental toughness and have dedicated my life to helping YOU and others learn how mental toughness is your ticket to peak performance. The clients I work with have changed my life as I continue to witness the amazing goals they achieve and surpass.
YOU can do the exact same thing by following these same principals. Whether you’re new to your career or struggling to get your next promotion, following the steps outlined in YOUR MENTAL TOUGHNESS PLAYBOOK will help you battle through and WIN!
I challenge each of you to take the plunge and get uncomfortable. Put these mental toughness training concepts to the test and uncover your true winning potential.
As I mentioned, my current clients are national and world champions in the NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, NCAA.
If these mental toughness training concepts are working for them, don’t you think they can work for you?
Get started by clicking below to access Ben’s complete Mental Toughness Training course.
90,000 15 Steps to Resilience
Many people, when faced with difficult trials, feel that they are not strong enough to cope with them. You can often hear from them: “Of course, she overcame it, she is strong, but I can’t do that.” In fact, the conviction that someone is given high psychological stability from birth is wrong. People who confidently cope with failures, painful breakups and other blows of fate were not born with an unbending character and a steel will – they became that way.And this is within the power of each of us.
Psychologists define psychological resilience as the ability to recover from setbacks and easily adapt to changes. This quality can and should be developed, and 15 steps will help you in this.
1. Maintain a healthy relationship
It doesn’t matter who it will be – family members, friends or acquaintances from the support group to which you approached with your problem. It is important that communication is based on mutual trust, care and desire to help each other.Discussing problems helps us understand that we will not be left alone with difficulties and that other people have also experienced or are experiencing something similar right now.
When we know that we can rely on loved ones, it creates a sense of security, and the level of psychological stability increases.
2. Meet life’s difficulties face to face
Do not deny what is happening. Day by day, step by step, do what you can to cope with the difficulties.
3.Believe that the problem can be solved
We cannot control everything, but we are definitely able to control our reactions. Praise yourself for the steps you are taking to overcome a difficult or crisis situation. Trust that you can handle the problem. Remind yourself of past victories – surely something unpleasant has already happened in life that you were able to cope with.
Think of yourself as a problem solver. Let tough times be an opportunity to prove it to yourself.
4. Develop your problem-solving skills and walk towards your goal
Don’t let seemingly insoluble problems prevent you from moving on. Think about what you can do right now to start dealing with the situation. List your options, but don’t try to find the perfect solution that fits all criteria, just generate ideas.
When you complete the list, write down each item in a little more detail: what exactly will you do in this case, where to start, what consequences are possible.Choose the most realistic option and start working on it. If it doesn’t work, choose another one. This may sound trivial, but the effectiveness will surprise you.
5. Take Action
Instead of hesitating or procrastinating, take a step forward. Divide your plan into small steps so it doesn’t feel overwhelming or overwhelming. Start small. Do not get hung up on worries about tomorrow, live now. See yourself not as a victim, but as a fighter – steadfast and unyielding.
6. Accept change as part of life
Over time, some of the dreams and plans that we cherished may become impossible. It hurts to admit it. But instead of regretting the unfulfilled, it is better to direct energy to what else can be done now or in the future.
“When one door closes, another opens. But we have been looking at the closed door for so long and with such regret that we do not notice the one that has opened, ”- these words of Alexander Graham Bell are the best fit for this situation.Train your flexibility and the ability to see events in a new light.
He dusted himself off and went. What is psychological stability and how it brings us closer to happiness
The term “resilience” was borrowed by English-speaking psychologists from physics – originally this word means the property of an elastic body to restore its original shape after the cessation of deforming action. Our psyche can also be “elastic” – in this case, stability means the ability of a person to function successfully in adverse circumstances.
The initial ability to endure adversity depends on many factors – genes, upbringing, social capabilities, etc. Resilience is not directly inherited, but, as the authors of the book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges write, psychiatrists Stephen M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney, recent research has linked this quality to genes that regulate the sympathetic nervous system (it is responsible for adapting body functions to stressful conditions), the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (stimulates the release of cortisol into the blood) and serotonin metabolism (affects on behavioral responses to stress and mood stability).Also important are the dopamine reward system (the biological basis of motivation) and the prefrontal cortex (it allows us to control and plan our behavior, despite the emotions overwhelming us). Our natural data are very different: someone is biologically more fortunate with self-regulation, while someone has this weak point. But this does not mean that resilience cannot be developed. The same is true with environmental factors: children from disadvantaged families are at risk, but about a third of them (according to a long study of the famous psychologist Emmy Werner) copes well with difficulties.
It is important to note that this invaluable quality does not mean stubbornness and impenetrability – rigid people who hardly change their views and habits adapt less well to difficult situations than soft and flexible individuals, although at first glance they may look more impressive. Resilience is also not equal to “unbreakable optimism”, which is often based on the denial of unpleasant emotions and can lead to a biased picture of the world. The resilient person has a realistic view of life and is well versed in their feelings, acknowledging fear, anger, and grief when they appear.But at the same time, he does not allow emotions to control his behavior, quickly moving from admitting that he does not like the situation to looking for a way out of it. Such a person believes that it is in his power to change something. Deprived of this quality, people usually begin to blame the outside world for making them unhappy, and to justify their own inaction.
This does not mean that you need to take full responsibility for what happens to you – of course, natural disasters, diseases, wars, crime rates and many other unpleasant things are beyond your control.But in any, even the most difficult situation, there is something that we control. The famous Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who went through a concentration camp, in his work “Man in Search of Meaning”, studied what strategies helped other prisoners to survive in such dire conditions. It turned out that those who came up with some meaningful actions did the best: for example, one woman did not lose her will to live because she constantly monitored the condition of her hair – the little that she could still manage.
It is interesting that psychological stability directly affects the physical resistance of the body. For example, a sense of humor, according to some reports, strengthens the immune system (in particular, increases the content of immunoglobulin A in saliva, which helps us fight respiratory diseases).
What Helps Become More Resilient
The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed a list of 10 tips for those who want to make their own psyche more adaptable and resilient.Here are some of them:
Strengthen relationships within and outside the family. Separately, those who have developed a reliable type of attachment in childhood: confidence in parental support allows the child to more boldly explore the world around him, which is reflected in the ability to take action in situations of uncertainty and in adulthood. But even for those who are unlucky with their parents, there is good news: strong, tender and full of mutual caring relationships with a partner and friends also have a positive effect on psychological stability.In a difficult situation, you will know that you are not alone – support will give strength to fight the circumstances. This is confirmed even by research among the military: friendly relations with fellow soldiers significantly increase the effectiveness of soldiers on the battlefield and their ability to tolerate stress.
Believe in yourself. This does not mean that it is useful to consider yourself Superman – on the contrary, you need to set ambitious, but realistic goals and be ready to work on yourself and the fact that the results will not appear immediately.It is important to celebrate gradual progress and be able to work at “distance” distances for the sake of delayed reward: the famous “marshmallow” experiments in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States showed that children who are able to give up sweets now in order to get twice as large later, subsequently, they excelled more than their less self-possessed peers.
Get ready to change. Do not take the difficulties that have fallen on you as something that irreversibly worsens your life.Much depends on the interpretation and on the ability to distinguish between what can be influenced and what not. The world is constantly changing, and some of the previous goals and plans have to be revised. Temporary disappointment is natural, but these changes can open up new perspectives if you focus not on the negative, but on the maximum benefit that can be obtained from the changed circumstances.
Use the difficulty as a lesson. You cannot always win, but in any situation you can learn something if you are open enough and curious.Nietzsche’s famous quote that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger may sound painful to someone who has just experienced a tragedy. Problems do not always temper, and excessive stress can break even a strong person. Still, challenging circumstances can help us discover new strengths. Of course, this does not necessarily happen immediately and by default – it requires some serious inner work and some luck.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Psychological endurance does not mean that you need to be a draft horse – if you relax in time and switch your attention from problems to something pleasant, your energy will noticeably increase.
Psychologists also advise looking for additional ways to maintain peace of mind. Some of them may be individual – for example, creativity, personal diary or spiritual practices. Others have a scientific basis – for example, meditation can help fight anxiety and develop self-control, and aerobic exercise insures against the unpleasant consequences of high levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone”.
Psychological stability in sports Text of a scientific article in the specialty “Psychological Sciences”
students. XXVII, 2003, St. Petersburg State University.
8. Krasnov I.S. Ways of forming a healthy lifestyle of students / Questions of physical education of students.XXVIII. SPb .: Publishing house of SPbSPU, 2003.
UDC: 159.9: 796
Namazov A.K., Olennikova M.V. PSYCHOLOGICAL STABILITY IN SPORT 12
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University
Studies comparing successful and less successful athletes in terms of psychological stability, found that the former are characterized by higher levels of concentration and self-confidence, as well as lower levels of anxiety.Successful athletes were also characterized by more positive thoughts and more use of positive ideomotor acts in order to visualize success. In addition, they are more determined and more obligatory than their less successful comrades. Also, when drawing up a lesson plan, you need to decide what you need to pay attention to in psychological stability.
It will depend on: the number of training sessions (per week), how much time will be allocated weekly for psychological training, how much athletes are interested in psychological training, etc.n. If psychological stability is stable, then it is necessary to check in a situation close to reality. Psychological stability must be given 10-15 minutes of training, 3-5 times a week. It is best to work on this in the first or last 10-15 minutes of a training session. Then psychological stability must be combined with the training of physical qualities. After that, all this should be tried to apply in a simulated competitive activity, before using it in real competition conditions.Some tasks can be given to athletes at home, but more
12 Namazov A.K., Olennikova M.V. Psychological stability in sport / Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University.
It is advisable to control the majority of psychological training. In the interval between psychological training sessions, it is advisable to conduct physical training sessions.In this case, we provide feedback. The main thing is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each athlete in terms of psychological stability and, based on this, develop a program, taking into account individual characteristics (1).
This program will include ideomotor acts, i.e. it is the creation or re-creation of any action. This process involves extracting from memory fragments of information accumulated with experience and transforming them into expressive images.Performances are a form of imitation and can be used to improve both physical and psychological skills:. confidence building; control of emotional reactions; training strategy; relieving pain; trauma treatment.
Also in the psychological rehabilitation program for the correction of increased anxiety is used: autogenous training, breathing exercises, physical exercises, active rest.
Means and methods of psychological and pedagogical influences should be included in all stages and periods of year-round training, be constantly repeated and improved.Some of them at one or another stage of education and training of annual cycles, especially in connection with preparation for competitions, participation in them and recovery after significant training and competitive loads are of primary importance. At the stage of classes, groups of initial training, the main attention should be paid to the regulation of interest in sports, correct sports motivation, moral and volitional qualities, as well as specific ones necessary in sports (hard work in training, discipline, a sense of responsibility, respect for the coach and teammates, rival, exactingness to oneself) of positive interpersonal relationships in sports groups, the development of the simplest sensorimotor reactions, attention, self-control skills.At the stage of teaching and training groups, the emphasis is on the development of sports intelligence, the ability to self-regulation, normalization of volitional character traits, improvement of interactions in a sports team, the development of operational thinking and memory, specialized perceptions, and the creation of general mental readiness for competitions. At the class stage
groups of sports perfection and higher sportsmanship, the main attention in training is paid to the improvement of volitional character traits, specialized perceptions, complex sensorimotor reactions and operational thinking, the ability to self-regulation, the normalization of special pre-competitive and mobilization readiness, the ability to neuropsychic recovery.In the year-round training cycle, the following emphasis should be placed in the distribution of objects of psychological and pedagogical influences. In the preparatory period, the means and methods of psychological and pedagogical influences are allocated, associated with the moral and psychological education of athletes, the development of their sports intelligence, clarification of the goals and objectives of participation in competitions, the content of general psychological preparation for competitions, the development of volitional qualities and specialized perceptions, the optimization of interpersonal relations. and sensorimotor improvement of general psychological readiness (3).
In the competitive period of training, the emphasis is on improving emotional stability, properties of attention, achieving special mental readiness for performance and mobilization readiness for competitions. In the transitional period, the means and methods of neuropsychic rehabilitation of athletes are mainly used.
Psychological preparation for competitions consists of two sections: general mental preparation for competitions, which is carried out throughout the year and special mental preparation for performing in specific competitions.In the course of general mental preparation for competitions, a high level of competitive motivation, competitive character traits, pre-competitive and competitive emotional stability, ability and self-control and self-regulation in a competitive environment are normalized. In the course of mental preparation for specific competitions, the special (pre-competition) mental combat readiness of an athlete before the performance is normalized, characterized by self-confidence, a desire for success, an optimal level of emotional arousal, resistance to the influence of internal and external interference, the ability to control their actions, emotions and behavior. , the ability to immediately and effectively perform the actions necessary for success during the performance (6).
The mastering of high training loads is facilitated by special restorative measures, which are divided into four groups of means: pedagogical, psychological, hygienic and medico-biological. The medical and biological group of restorative agents includes a balanced diet, fortification.
When organizing meals at the training camp, one should be guided by the recommendations of the Institute of Nutrition, which are based on the principles of balanced nutrition, developed by academician A.A. Pokrovsky. Additional introduction of vitamins is carried out in the winter-spring period, as well as during strenuous training. In order to avoid intoxication, it is advisable to start taking additional vitamins in a dose not exceeding half of the daily requirement.
Physical aids are a large group of agents used in physiotherapy. The rational use of physical means of recovery helps to prevent injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system.In sports practice, various types of manual and instrumental massage (underwater, vibration), showers, baths, saunas, local physiotherapeutic methods of exposure (galvanization, iontophoresis, sollux, etc.), local bar effects, electrical stimulation, etc. are widely used. (massage, sauna, baths) should be prescribed no more than 1-2 times a week.
Medical and biological agents are prescribed only by a doctor and carried out under his supervision.
Rehabilitation means are used when sports performance decreases or when training load tolerance is impaired.
Every athlete needs and it is important to be confident in their abilities, not only during competitions, but also during training. If the athlete “gives up”, it is necessary to correct the psychology and restore the athlete’s faith in himself. To correct the psychology of athletes, the coach of athletes can also act as a psychologist.
1. Gogunov E.N., Martyanov B.I. Psychology of physical education and sports: Textbook for students. higher. ped. study, institutions. M .: Publishing Center “Academy”, 2000.
3. Ilyin E.P. Psychology of sport / E.P. Ilyin. SPb: Peter, 2009.
4. Sidorenko E.V. Methods of mathematical processing in psychology. SPb .: OOO “Rech”, 2004.
5.http: //www.sportacadem.ru/tat/obrazovanie 1 / studentu / materialy_lekcij
6.http: //www.rowingrussia.ru/metody podgotovki sportsmenov
Keywords: motivation, psychological correction, psychological stability, training process, psychological preparation.Keywords: motivation, psychological correction, psychological stability, the training process, the psychological preparation.
PROBLEM OF ATHLETES ‘MOTIVATION13
Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University
Often we can face the fact that for various reasons athletes can quit training.Sometimes there are good reasons for this, and it can be very difficult to get a person back into the training process. However, there are ways to motivate the athlete to return to training. In this article, I would like to consider the main ways to motivate a person to return to the training process.
There are several different types of motivation. It is often divided into pedagogical and psychological.
Athlete’s pedagogical motivation is the motivation that usually comes from the coach.An athlete who quits training can heed the words of their coach. The opinion of teachers is important for any person. Athletes especially often face psychological problems that can lead to the end of a sports career. For example, psychological fatigue, overtraining, loss of self-confidence due to not achieving the desired result in competitions, injury, and so on. In these cases, the athlete may not listen to the words of friends and other people,
13 Namazov A.K. Athletes motivation problem / Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University.
90,000 The easiest way to develop psychological stability in yourself
Reading Mark McGuinness’s book No matter what. How to overcome fear, rejection and criticism on the way to your dream ”, I found an exercise, interesting in description, but not yet tested by me in practice, to form the mental stability of a person walking towards his dream.
From the description it is very simple. Moreover, it is so simple that I had doubts about its possible effectiveness.
However, the author writes that he has been doing it for over 15 years. Here is a literal description of this wonderful exercise: “… This is an exercise: sit quietly for twenty minutes a day and do nothing.
That’s it. I told you it’s simple!
In fact, there is something else.
While you are sitting, pay attention to your feelings from the chair, from your body, from the color and shape of surrounding objects, sounds, your own breathing, thoughts, feelings.
The purpose of the exercise is not to be relaxed. On the contrary: pay attention to your feelings – physical, mental, emotional – here and now. It’s all!
On the one hand, twenty minutes may seem too short. You will read these lines and think: “How can twenty minutes of doing nothing help me to fulfill my dream?” On the other hand, when you try it, twenty minutes seems like an eternity. You will very quickly feel that you are bored, do not sit still, you want to get up and do something interesting and useful.
So why do what seems completely useless, aimless, boring and hard? You can only be convinced of the value of the exercise by doing it yourself. But here’s what awaits you if you start and last for a few days:
- Your mind will become clearer and your feelings calmer, even if you did not consciously seek to relax.
- You will begin to see thoughts come and go, and you will realize that they are not really as powerful as they might seem.
- The same goes for your feelings.
- You will notice how easy it is to be captured by useless thoughts and how you can get out of it
- You will spend less time thinking, desiring and fearing and will pay more attention to your current feelings
- Problems will no longer seem as big and insurmountable as they used to be.
- Keep practicing and you will begin to notice these benefits not only during the twenty minute sessions, but in reality.You will become calmer and more focused, you will begin to appreciate the good in your life more, it will bring you more joy. When you are faced with a difficult task, it will no longer amaze you. You will notice that you are acting more decisively, more efficiently, more efficiently. Difficult negotiations will be easier for you, and communication with friends and family will be more enjoyable. You will become more energetic. “
These are the results the author promises us, well, what shall we try?
Chapter 3 Psychological resistance training
Chapter 3 Psychological resistance training
Frightened – half defeated.
Self-defense is 80% mind work and only 20% body work.
I don’t think it’s worth proving that psychological stability, the ability to suppress fear, and find inner strength in oneself in time are the most important skills of a fighter. “A sword in the hands of a coward is useless,” the Chinese said. The next chapter will be devoted to the issues of strengthening and developing the “combat psyche”, in other words, behavior in battle.
Zen in karate
Some karate fighters have heard, while others even like to repeat the Japanese proverb: “Karateva Zenwa Ichi”.Which in translation means: “Karate and Zen are one”.
What is hidden behind this maxim? And perhaps most importantly, how does this relate to practice? How does this determine the effectiveness of a battle? What role does this principle play in realizing ikken hisatsu (one-hit win)? It will be no secret to anyone that training in most karate sections begins with zazen (sitting meditation). However, despite this, there are no enlightened practitioners yet.
Sly Japanese after the command “mokuso” close their eyes.So what is next? And how does breath counting affect winning a battle? So many questions! Now let’s talk about everything in order.
Whether we like it or not, each of us is the bearer of “our own” ego , which consists of (and more often determines) our thoughts and emotions. In other words, the ego is a collection of “our” ideas about the “self” of the beloved. Why did I put the word “myself” in quotation marks? Precisely because “I” and my own ideas about me are “two big differences”.
Our “self-image” or “self-awareness” was formed under the influence of society, culture, religion, education, family, various life situations, etc.As a result, we think , believe that I am, for example, a man (by the way, note that such a definition carries a social rather than a physiological meaning, i.e. a man is an indicator of strength, courage, will , leadership, etc.), head of the family, businessman, father of a child, karateka with 27 years of experience, etc.
But in fact it is not “I”, but the numerous roles I play in my life. Who is this “I” really? With your permission, I will not delve into the metaphysical jungle, but I like to think that “man was created in the image and likeness of God.”It turns out that we are relatives with Him. 🙂
This is all good, but what the hell ?! What does all this have to do with combat?!? An impatient reader will ask. Just a moment more patience. I suggest you conduct a simple experiment (all exercises that are directly related to the technique of karate are in the section dedicated to the methodology of our training): we take a piece of paper 10×10 cm, a new banknote, etc. Barely touching (that is, with the effort necessary only so that the sheet does not fall) with clean and dry index and thumb, hold it.In this case, the leaf is located in the middle, between the four and the thumb at a height of approximately 3-5 cm. Then the holding leaf should simply release it, without applying any additional efforts ( Fig. 3.1-3.4 ) The task of the second participant is to catch the leaf with a brush.
How did it work? Unlikely. If from the first time you managed to catch a leaf in 30-50% of cases, congratulate yourself – this is a wonderful (!) Result.
Well, what is the reason for the failure? It would seem that there is nothing complicated here? Eyes saw, fingers grabbed. Ha! It was not so! This exercise is designed to “push” yourself against the ego.
The catch is that most consider the “ego” to be some kind of philosophical-speculative problem. If that were so …
Consider the experiment with a leaf. Most often, instead of the “eyes see, the body acts” scheme, the “eyes see, the mind (read ego) thinks , the body acts” scheme begins to work.So it turns out that while the mind is thinking, the leaf falls.
Okay, let’s leave the leaf and move on to real conditions. And a leaf? God bless him. Let it fall. So, let’s move on to the battle conditions. The enemy hits you. Seeing this, you … started thinking , how to better reflect it: “Soooo …. maybe age-uke? Not. Inconvenient. ABOUT! Then I will take a step and dive under the arm. Damn, not the best option either. Or maybe ..? Damn, how much it hurts! ” While you were thinking , the fist flew.
Friends! We need exercise with a leaflet only to become aware of the process of thinking.The fact is that we are so used to it that we often don’t realize it. And uncontrolled thinking is, in essence, the ego.
How exactly can karate and zen help in the fight against “our” ego? Generally speaking, the direction of the basic methodology of Zen is precisely the disidentification with “one’s” ideas about “oneself”, with “one’s” fears, “one’s” feelings, ie. with “my” ego. In other words, Zen and Karate are a way to take off the “ego suit” that blocks reality from us.
Another example suggests itself: a bandit brings a piece of reinforcement over your head.What to do? God forbid, if you froze, imagining possible actions, or even thinking about the outcome of events, or that in vain you went this way. Here it is – your frightened ego has begun to play all this nonsense in your head. The armature is already flying, and you are still thinking.
Better to let the body get scared in this situation. The body, fortunately, does not know how to think, but it (taught in training) can and can react: it can sharply reduce the distance and grab the hands of the attacker (or at worst) put its own hands under the blow and turn it off with a knee kick in the groin of a geek who dared to take in the hands of weapons.
I hasten to make a reservation that I would not want you to conclude from my words that thoughts, mind, thinking, reason are bad. Not! Far from it! This is very good, but “everything has its time” or, as the ancients said, “nothing beyond measure.” You cannot underestimate the importance of the mind in passing the math exam, making the choice to buy in the store, crossing the road, during business negotiations. Here the mind plays a decisive role. There is no way without him here. But now we no longer admire the beautiful landscape, perceiving its amazing beauty, and think, how good it is.And during the fight , think about the methods of striking and setting blocks.
What is the difference between thinking about nature and fighting? There is no fundamental difference here! The same mechanism works. The key difference is the price of the issue. Passed by, not seeing the true beauty of Nature, this is certainly annoying, but not fatal. While missing a punch in a fight can be both annoying and deadly.
This suggests a simple conclusion: any Zen arts (ikebana, bonsai, origami, tea ceremony) somehow lead to enlightenment.However, martial arts in general and karate in particular greatly speed up this process. (Still, getting hit on the head is at least painful.)
In some, the most sublime sense of this word, karate, when used correctly, is a “conveyor” that releases the enlightened !!!
(At the same time, I draw your attention, in the section on Zen, not a word was said about rituals, religion, ceremonies, etc. In fact, Zen is nothing but practice. And the implementation of these exercises (as far as I can judge) does not contradict the principles of both adherents of any religion, denomination, philosophy, and any materialist.)
Okay, now let’s devote some time to practice, i.e. exercises that force us to give up thinking in battle.
First exercise. One partner puts on two “paws” and with quick, but smooth movements, in a “torn” rhythm, leads them in the reach of the other’s hands. The task of the latter is to kimi each time (i.e. apply force) to the paw with one blow or another ( Fig. 3.5 ).
Second exercise. One partner picks up a jo (stick about 1.3 m long), holds it vertically by one end and shakes it in a ragged rhythm in the reach of the other’s legs.The task of the second is to hit the stick with different kicks ( fig. 3.6 ).
Third exercise. One partner, easily holding the jo by one end, leads the other end along the floor in a “free pattern”. The task of the second is to step on a stick. ( fig. 3.7 ) (Attention! Do not allow your shoulders to bend back. This exercise is an imitation of stepping on your feet, not a child’s swing.)
Fourth exercise. Take a regular tennis ball and use a mesh elastic medical bandage to attach it to an elastic band tied to the ceiling.The task is to hit the ball with any kicks. This exercise not only perfectly develops a reaction, but, most importantly, makes you aware of the very pause, the gap that everyone has in consciousness.
The fifth is probably the most difficult and most important exercise . For, according to one philosopher, “there is a mystical connection between the difficult and the important.” This is finding the “ski”. Ski (in fact, it is more correct to pronounce “SUKI”, but for obvious reasons I, like many Japanese scholars, use this spelling) in Japanese is “gap, gap”.This is one of the main, fundamentally important concepts of martial arts.
“Ski” means a gap in the defense, ie. an unprotected part of the body, open to defeat. Why do such areas appear sometimes, by the way, and experienced fighters?
The fact is that it is difficult for a person to be aware, to feel his whole body. Thus, it turns out that the fighter, as it were, “forgets” about a part of his body. (The simplest example of this kind of situation would be a kick to the knee after 3-5 punches to the head.Most likely, the attacker will be surprised by the missed kick to the knee: “Well, I also have legs?” – will be his first thought.)
In a deeper, Zen sense, “ski” means the interval of time between two actions: the event itself and the reaction to it. In our case, this will be the time interval between a flying strike and your block, for example.
And so it turns out, as you probably already guessed, that our exercise with a piece of paper allows you to face your own “ski”.
Still, I propose to return to the external manifestation of skiing, as to the gap in the defense. The exercise is precisely aimed at this and consists in applying slow blows. It can be very conditionally called slow sparring.
The task is to “confirm” the availability of ski for yourself and the enemy. And having achieved this, remove the “gap” in oneself (ie, learn to constantly be aware, feel the whole body as a whole) and learn to identify and attack the enemy’s ski.
To improve the result obtained, you must also pay attention to the environment around you (ideally, you need to have time to see at 360 °), i.e.That is, to mark people, objects, buildings, around you, the surface on which you are standing, the position of the Sun, etc.
But what will be the proof that the blow hit the enemy’s ski? To do this, you need to strive to hit it with a slow hit of . So … Put aside the usual methods of fighting, forget about “jerking” the enemy, about distracting maneuvers, about “entrances” and sharp high-speed strikes. This is not a sparring exercise! Although two people take part in it.
The best confirmation of its successful implementation will be … partner’s surprise from a missed hit . Thus, he will gradually begin to learn to expand his consciousness to the whole body. And by attacking you, it will help to remove your ski.
You cannot tell in the article how the enemy’s skiing feels. Speaking for myself, I somehow intuitively get to feel the area of the opponent’s body, which he “forgot”, of course, if there is one. You can try to compare this with the emergence of a very peculiar feeling of “emptiness”, some kind of lack in this place.Therefore, what to say: “Practice is the criterion of truth” (“as the great Lenin bequeathed”).
Perhaps the time has come for the results. Whatever the cause of the “gap”, ski between actions (it does not matter if it is caused by thinking or ego), almost all Zen arts will contribute to its elimination: bonsai, tea ceremony, origami, ikebana, etc. However, the martial art allows you to achieve enlightenment faster and more efficiently, simply because here, unlike the tea ceremony, it is very painful for you. 🙂
This text is an introductory fragment.
Continuation for liters
90,000 Minusinsky District Administration – Main
Minusinsky District is a municipal district in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.The area of the territory is 3205 km², the population is 26001 people. The area is one of the tourist centers of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The Minusinsk region is located in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, on the right bank of the Yenisei River, in the central part of the Minusinsk Basin. On the territory of the region there are Tagarskoye, known as the medicinal lake, the Bolshoi and Maly Kyzykul lakes, and several smaller lakes. The rivers Lugavka, Tesinka, Minusinka flow through the territory of the district.
north: Krasnoturansk region of Krasnoyarsk region
northeast: Kuraginsky region of Krasnoyarsk region
southeast: Karatuz region of Krasnoyarsk region
South: Shushensky region of Krasnoyarsk region
southwest and west: Republic of Khakassia.
There are thirteen village councils on the territory of the district. The head of the district is Klimenko Alexander Alexandrovich. As of 2019, the Council consists of 21 members. The administrative center of the municipal formation Minusinsky district is the city of Minusinsk (an independent municipal formation).
The main branch of the district’s specialization is agriculture.
© 2020 Administration of Minusinsky District
662600, Krasnoyarsk Territory, g.Minusinsk, st. Gogol, house 66a,
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eRusTT.ru | Methodology for training psychological stability in table tennis competitions
It is necessary to train the psychological resistance in relation to the stress arising in the conditions of the competition as carefully as the technique. We offer a simple and understandable technique for this purpose.
1. The simplest, very important and, at the same time, quite rarely performed is the first rule – do not pay attention to anything (except for the game, of course).
If you came to the table to win, then you cannot waste energy on extraneous stimuli. Do not react to anyone or anything: not to other people’s balls, not to spectators, not even to the blonde in the fifth row. Do not pay attention to the “snot” (edge, mesh) – neither strangers, nor yours. Treat this philosophically as an integral part of the game.
Do not pay attention! No matter what, except for his meeting.
Let’s call it one word – concentration.
At any time, except during the rally: inhale.Hold the breath. Say mentally: CONCENTRATION. Everything except the game ceased to exist. Exhalation.
2. Rule two – rejoice in success and instantly forget the failure.
After each point won, you should make it a rule to “rejoice”. You don’t have to shout, dance, or show your opponent “fuck”. But it is necessary to celebrate your successful action. Thus, a “bank of victorious actions” is formed and consolidated in the subconscious.
At the same time it is necessary to achieve suppression of emotions in case of failure.Then it is possible and necessary to analyze soberly the reasons for the unsuccessful rally. Emotionally, one must strive to remain impartial. And immediately forget, suppress negative emotions. Do not start the next rally until your head is completely clear of thoughts of failure.
Inhale. Hold the breath. Say mentally: IT WAS NOT. Everything that happened up to this point has ceased to exist. Exhale.
3. The most important of all the points played is the one that is being played now.Rule three – this ball.
Game. Regardless of the account. Regardless of the set. Regardless of the level of the opponent. Regardless of the importance of the result. Should be divided into separate sections. Each segment is a rally of one current point.
The segment includes: Preparation for the rally. Directly drawing. Ritual after the rally.
In this case, the player must categorically understand and believe that this point is the only important and significant one. And you need to win this particular ball.Nothing matters, except for winning this one, this one, this particular ball !!!
Before serving, the player must determine for himself the desired (possible) tactical scheme of the rally. After thinking over the scheme, throw all extraneous thoughts out of your head. Feel the importance of winning this particular point.
Decide on tactics. Breathe in. Hold the breath. Say mentally: THIS BALL. Everything except this rally ceased to exist. Exhale. Submit or accept submission.
Never rush or fuss. Do not enter the drawing without performing this ritual!
4. The most difficult rule. Perhaps the most important. Do not be afraid.
You yourself have to convince yourself – nothing terrible will happen if you lose! All these are mere trifles compared to the loss of objective values. Of course, it is unpleasant to lose, but the fear of defeat leads to defeat. So it is necessary to artificially lower the significance of the result!
The strategy here is this – we rejoice in victories, we discard defeats like rubbish.We don’t care about defeat. Whether they are accidental or not – we do not care.
Will you lose? Spit! Not scary!
Inhale. Hold the breath. Say: FIGURE! – the fourth key. Once again in the FIG! And the last time – ME IN THE FIGURE !! … Exhale.
Result. Became. Indifferent. And the ability to play remains!
5. The last fifth rule. Table tennis is a game. Not work! Not a duty! This is what brings pleasure. You must learn to enjoy the game.
Don’t suffer! And enjoy, revel in the game.Iron will, concentration, attention are not at all the antonyms of the Game.
On the contrary, these are factors that enhance pleasure. This is how I can! I’m focused! But not squeezed! I am indifferent to failure! But I get tremendous pleasure from the victory! And my favorite game is a means to victory!
Play boldly, relaxed, have fun.