Athletes know how important it is to train and build physical ability. Excelling in any sport requires dedication — but sometimes the mental aspects of competition are either overlooked or not paid enough attention to.
Competitive athletics are as much a mental game as a physical one. Neglecting to train one’s mental focus and build mental stamina could prevent someone from ultimately performing at their peak. The good news? You can work on training your mind just like you put in work to train your body.
At Psychology Beverly Hills, our psychologists and therapists work with athletes of all levels who want to up their game. We believe that people are able to learn the mental skills needed to develop a healthy mindset required in competitive sports with the help of sports and performance psychology, and here are some ways to get started.
Develop a realistically positive attitude
Your attitude can be developed to stay more realistically positive even in the face of challenges. This does not mean ignoring what may not be going well or blindly remaining positive. On the contrary, challenges can be embraced and acknowledged while working towards a healthy and more positive way of relating to those challenges. Maintaining a positive outlook in this way, in practice and in games, can certainly help boost your performance, and better enable you to deal with challenges more effectively.
Whether someone lost a game, suffered an injury, or hit a slump, a realistically positive outlook and self-talk can help you stay motivated and move forward. Plus, it also has benefits for teammates and can boost their morale as well.
Learn to manage emotions
Competition is intense, and feeling strong emotions is normal. Learning to manage those emotions can help athletes avoid making impulsive decisions in the heat of the moment.
Identifying and navigating emotions like anxiety, depression, frustration, or anger allows you to channel them appropriately in a healthy way and thereby remain focused on performance. For example, this can help in managing negative interactions with other players and spectators, or even help with indirect issues like stress at home or at work from impacting your game.
Managing emotions effectively allows you to keep a level head and bounce back after making a mistake or getting involved in a stressful situation which are oftentimes inevitable and part of the game.
Hone your mental focus
Mental focus is an incredibly important piece of athletic success. The ability to maintain intense, singular concentration also allows you to manage strong emotions and to ignore or filter out distractions when it matters most.
By practicing concentration, you can better accomplish physical tasks that may have appeared to be unrealistic in the past. A sharp mental focus can help push past discomfort or distractions in training sessions and ultimately help you perform at your best during competitions.
Honing mental focus can also help you move past mistakes. It’s easy for past failures to continue affecting your performance, but with disciplined focus, you can keep those worries and doubts from impacting your game.
To boost athletic performance, don’t overlook the importance of goal setting. Learning how to set high and achievable goals can help push you outside your comfort zone in a healthy way.
Setting specific goals to work towards step by step, and visualizing success can become a key component in your game. The feeling of success when you achieve each goal can also help in keeping you motivated and striving towards accomplishing the next goal.
Mental training is very nuanced and sometimes complex but achievable. It’s just as important as physical training if someone wants to master their sport and perform at an elite level. Depending on each individual’s needs and on a case by case basis, our therapists may also integrate cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or mentalization-based therapy (MBT) to enhance sports psychology and performance.
Find out how we can help with sports and performance therapy at Psychology Beverly Hills. Request a consultation online or call the office at 424-331-1570 to set up your first appointment.