How to Apply Mental Toughness to Your Game
Sports psychology experts often talk about the importance of learning mental toughness to improve your performance. However, my 15 years of teaching the mental game to students makes me think that understanding mental toughness skills is not the whole enchilada. To be successful with mental toughness training, athletes must learn how to apply it.
Why would I say this?
I can teach you to improve concentration and focus all day long. You can understand the information and concepts by hearing it or reading about it (See The Focused Athlete at peaksports.com). However, until you actually are able to put the focusing skills into practice and competition, you can’t make any progress and REALLY learn mental toughness.
If you’re serious about getting the most from what you’ve learned, then you must be sure to apply consistently the mental skills you understand on a conceptual level. This is the biggest challenge in my work helping athlete apply the concepts.
Take confidence, for example. I teach athletes and coaches strategies to enhancing confidence, such as how to fight doubt, and how to put it into action. But, did you know that until an athletes actually implements them, practices them, and add them into their routines that you won’t see improvement?
See, the biggest challenge is to commit to working on your mental toughness daily over weeks, months, and even years. It’s easy to pick up a book on mental training and then forget about the strategies you learned one week later. The key is to find a system to apply your new mental toughness strategies to practice and competition on a daily basis.
This is similar to the skill of visualization and seeing what you want to happen. When an athlete visualizes her performance, she can see it in her mind, but can she truly believe it and feel it?
Visualization can be just wishful thinking on the part of the athletes. If you don’t believe in the images you create in your mind and have complete control over those mental images, then it just will not be effective.
In a coaching student, I asked one of my golf students if she visualizes each shot before she executes. Her reply: “Oh no, I stopped visualizing my shots because I would only see a bad shot in my mind before I hit it.” Is this athlete really using visualization the way it was intended? I don’t think so.
The best athletes truly feel, sense, and believe in what they see in their minds AND have total control over the images when they use visualization. When you can join your mental pictures with true confidence, then you have power to change your performance by just using your mind.
Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? I suggest you grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine, for athletes, coaches, and sports parents:
Thank You,Patrick J. Cohn, Ph.D.,
Master Mental Game Coach
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Master mental game coach, Dr. Patrick Cohn, can help you or your athlete(s), ages 12 and up, overcome mental game issues with personal coaching.
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For Young Athletes and Parents – Learn More About How to Help Kids Improve Confidence Quickly!
We’ve got a great program for you called “The Confident Sports Kid: A 7-Day Plan for Building Ultimate Self-Confidence.”
The Confident Sports Kid is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athlete’s performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!
The Confident Sports Kid is two programs in one. There’s a manual and CD for parents/coaches, and a workbook/CD for young athletes.
Packed with mental strategies that you and your kids can start using immediately, this program teaches your athletes how to identify confidence busters, proactively deal with them, manage expectations that undermine confidence, and mentally prepare to stay confident when faced with adversity.
What’s more, our program teaches you, as sports parents and coaches, how you may be hurting your kids’ confidence and gives you instructions for changing your behavior in ways that will improve your athletes’ performance, confidence and enjoyment.
Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Sports Kid Series…
What are parents and coaches saying about our program?
“I appreciate the advice to parents as to how to help your child become more mentally resilient to bullying in sports. The specific advice and scenarios are extremely helpful for any child on a team and very helpful in guiding parents, coaches and administrators in how to deal with bullying in sports. I cannot thank you enough for your input, and I am so reassured to know that there are people like you who are writing articles and doing interviews on such timely and important matters.”
“Dr. Patrick Cohn and Lisa Cohn are to be congratulated! Together, they offer a wealth of knowledge, information, and practical mental tools for sports parents on the substantial “mental game” challenges and pressures facing today’s young athletes.”
~Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach
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What are coaches saying?
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~Kerri Morgan, Mental Game Coach
“I am impressed with the willingness and openness of Dr. Cohn to share all of his assets (intellectual, products, etc.) with the MGCP students. You have developed an incredible model/package for mental training. Even though we are paying for your service, you are passing on a legacy built on your contribution to the world of sports. Thank you for that.”
~Tony Melito, MGCP