One of the biggest performance killers in sports is panic. Often, when athletes panic they get trapped in their mind at the worst possible moment where their biggest fears come to life. Fears such as choking during competition or replaying in their minds images of their coaches or parents upset and disappointed. These mental images seem to get stuck in time and increase pressure as it gets closer to game time. This mental error is often referred to as catastrophizing.
On the surface, mental toughness is a skill that most athletes acknowledge but underneath the surface, few athletes notice its presences until it's too late. I've heard countless coaches and parents point out to their players how much better they are compared to their competition. For example, parents have said things such as "you're way stronger than her" or "your game is way better than his". The truth is that in many cases these coaches and parents are incorrect as they are only noticing what is visible to the naked eye.
One major challenge many athletes face when going after their goals is confronting expectations from others. Athletes may hear things such as, "You're way better than that player" or "I know you can do this." Although, it may come off as positive on the outside. On the inside, athletes often become nervous. This is because many top athletes are perfectionists by nature, excelling academically, and expecting the same consistent improvements in their respective sports. The setback from this is that in sports, athletes deal with many more variables that are outside of their control.
Meditation is one of the most sought after and practiced skills among top athletes. The reason why is because meditation helps athletes learn how to take more control of their focus and emotional control. The challenge in competition is that many athletes struggle with their inner thoughts. Oftentimes, athletes cling onto their thoughts to the point where they start to believe everything that is happening. Thoughts such as, "that player is too good" or "today is not my day".
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Checkout the latest Mental Toughness Chat with Former Top 4 tennis player in world James Blake!
In this video James and I discuss how:
One of the biggest mistakes athletes make is the mistake of giving away their power. Think of power as an actual ball of energy that you carry with you wherever you go. This ball of energy is filled with confidence, positivity, maximum focus, and an ability to keep fighting no matter what happens. When athletes lose focus, what they are doing is passing their ball of energy or "power" to someone or something else.
Below are some examples of when athletes and teams give away their power.
Checkout the latest Mental Toughness Chat with Former Top 5 tennis player in world Jimmy Arias. Jimmy arias is also a commentator for The Tennis Channel. Here we discuss topics from a players point a view and a broadcaster point of view such as struggling with confidence, choking, mental toughness skills, and some of Jimmy's toughest losses such as his semifinal match at the 1983 US Open against Stefan Edberg.
Champion athletes understand that in order to perform to their full potential they must stay focused on the right objective. However, when the pressure becomes greater, the mind naturally wants to go elsewhere. Thoughts of potential mistakes, disappointments, and other forms of worry start compiling in the athlete's mind depleting the athlete's focus from the present task.
Below is one tip I strongly recommend athletes practice. This tip will help restructure your thought patterns into successful performances under pressure.
One of the most common questions asked at SPMI is why do some athletes get so emotional when under pressure?
First, we must look at the root of an emotional response. Science has discovered that the number #1 reason why athletes have emotions is due to Survival. Emotions are there to help individuals survive because they help prepare the body for action.