Mental Toughness

This week I started working with one of my players on how to create a mindset that will help her mental game.  Below is a mental toughness exercise that I encourage players, coaches and even parents do.  This approach really works.  Parents and coaches will often tell their student athlete what they want them to do, but they don’t tell them how to do it.  By having a clear self-image, you gain the confidence and develop a belief in yourself that does not require a parent, coach or teammate.

Mental Toughness Exercise

Your self-image is the athletic vision of yourself deep in your unconscious mind. It is a complete blueprint of the kind of athlete you consider yourself to be. Whether you see yourself as mentally tough, quick and agile, smart, or talented…

…all depends on your self-image. The level of detail in your athletic self-image is astonishing. It includes every dimension or trait in your sport, you can imagine.

Why is this important?  Because all your actions, emotions, and decisions are consistent with the beliefs inside your self-image.  Convinced you can’t beat a certain opponent? You’ll find a way to lose in the end.  Consider yourself unlikely to win those 50-50 battles? You’ll hang back and play cautious.  Not sure you can ascend to the top of your sport? You won’t set worthy goals.  The good news is that you don’t have to be controlled by an outdated or negative self-image.

You can take control of it.  You start by realizing how astonishingly detailed your athletic self-image is. I’m working with a softball player right now (we’ll call her Julie).

Julie has a pretty good athletic self-image.  But her self-image about hitting with the game on the line was not good.  When I asked her to describe her self-image in batting in this situation, she got stressed out.  In Julie’s mind, she has slow bat speed for faster pitching. Not an aggressive, take-no-prisoners kind of player.  When you’re struggling, you virtually always have an outdated or negative self-image.

And it doesn’t reflect your real self. I showed Julie how to make her self-image current.  She went from taking strike three as the 9th hitter to batting third and getting a key hit with the game on the line in less than one tournament.

That’s the wonderful thing about your self-image.  You can change it fast if you learn how.

Want to change your results in your sport?  First, you need to change your self-image.

I’m talking about the beliefs, fears, and attitudes about every facet of your athletic self that can hold you back.  It’s a powerful agent of change that teaches you how to use visualization to make you confident and mentally tough.

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