Athletes are often looked up to as role models, but it’s not always their athletic ability and on-field accomplishments that make them so admirable. The athletes that are the best in the world at their sport have impeccable mental toughness thanks to years of intense mental toughness training. The majority of elite athletes report that at least 50% of superior athletic performance is a direct result of psychological and mental contributing factors.
Here are some qualities of athletes who have undergone mental toughness training and are now the best of the best.
No matter how many adversities these athletes face during their lifetime, they are always able to bounce back and handle their tasks to the best of their ability. Resiliency is what separates the best in the world from just about everyone else. Life happens to everyone and it can be extremely difficult to respond to certain hardships, but the mentally tough are always able to do so, with great ability, while the feeble-minded usually end up having to quit.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
In addition to bouncing back from adversity, mentally tough athletes are able to stay relaxed under immense pressure as well. From Olympic competitors to Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, these athletes have to compete on the world stage, with millions of eyes on them and the weight of entire nations on their shoulders. This kind of pressure is enough to cause anyone to fold and mess up, but the best athletes in the world are the best for a reason and they are able to get the job done in these difficult situations.
The simple act of putting in the work is usually enough to separate the very best of the best as well. Talent certainly plays a part, but someone can have all the talent in the world and never achieve anything if they don’t put in the effort. Mental toughness training requires these athletes to both mentally and physically strain themselves for hours each day, everyday, for years and years, until they are the best in the world.
The importance of mental training for athletes cannot be understated. If you’re an athlete and want to improve your mental skills, it’s time to put in the work. Contact Sheryl Smith PhD today!
Approximately 83% of coaches rank “mental toughness” as the most important psychological characteristic for an athlete to have, but getting to a point where you’re mentally tough can be difficult, especially without the help of a sports psychologist. But grace under pressure can certainly be achieved, according to some of the greatest athletes in the world.
Whether you’re a student athlete or training for the big leagues, here are some pieces of mental advice from a few Olympic athletes that could get you started on the path to excellent grace under pressure.
Felix is a track-and-field superstar, and she says the most effective mental tool for her is tuning out all other distractions.
” I don’t hear any noise around me. I’m completely just dialed in to what I have to do,” she said in an interview withSports Illustrated.
The 2016 Olympics marked Phelps’ fifth time competing in the worldwide event. But in 2012, his coach Bob Bowman spoke to the Washington Post about his mental tricks to stay focused under the pressure of a swimming event.
“He will see exactly the perfect race … and then he will go through scenarios: What if things don’t go well?” Bowman said.
Unlike Felix, Phelps spends time beforehand mentally preparing for potential stressors. This takes a lot of psychology and mental toughness training, especially because some of the scenarios may be particularly stressful to imagine.
Harrison became the first American to win gold in judo during the 2012 Olympics. Instead of visualizing everything that could go wrong like Phelps does, Harrison told the Washington Post that she likes to picture only the positive outcomes to calm herself.
“I picture myself bombing the girl in the final and standing on top of the podium … and feeling the gold medal go around my neck,” she said. “I visualize all of that every night.”
Harrison’s mental skills involve using positive thoughts to release calming feelings. Performing these exercise every night has helped Harrison learn how to stay calm in times of extreme pressure like those when she’s competing.
There are multiple types of mental toughness training you can run through with a sports psychologist, but perhaps you can take inspiration from these medal-winning Olympic athletes to start forming your own mental training routine.