How to Build Mental Toughness

Hockey Psychology

Mindset Training to Perform at Your Best

What is the opposite of mental toughness? The counter to mental toughness is mental fragility.

The mentally fragile athlete tends to experience apprehension in big moments, become overwhelmed when playing tough competition, and feel inadequate compared to other athletes.

Mentally fragile athletes are anxious even before the competition starts and have difficulty controlling their emotions after a mistake.

Mentally fragile athletes are anxious even before the competition starts and have difficulty controlling their emotions after a mistake.

Another misconception is that mental toughness is a genetic trait. Mental toughness is a skill, not a product of your genes. Since mental toughness is a skill, you can build your mental strength through training.

You cannot expect to go through the motions in practice and hope you will be mentally tough in a game. Mentally tough athletes focus on being mentally strong in practices and training sessions.

Mental toughness is particularly on display late in games. Low levels of mental toughness cause athletes or teams to not close out games or crumble after mistakes.

The 2021 Penn State University men’s hockey team has had difficulty bouncing back after the opposing team scores and playing hard for a full 60-minute game. The two areas are a result of low levels of mental toughness.

Playing all-out for the entirety of a game requires being tough-minded. When you play with total effort and focus, you can bounce back from mistakes, maintain confidence, focus on your game plan and compete aggressively.

In a game against Michigan, Penn State seems to give up early in the game. After the loss to Michigan, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky commented on his team’s mentality:

GADOWSKY: “We didn’t finish. I thought we were very fragile…I thought that we played really well [in] the first half of the game, but the fragileness comes from [how] we gave up after (that))… It’s a 60-minute game.”

If you want to play hard through an entire competition, you must work hard and remain focused during every minute of practice and training.

Practicing for greater mental toughness will give you the confidence needed to perform at your peak and overcome mistakes or obstacles.

Mental toughness is a skill. Mental toughness is a part of your preparation for a game. When you are not working on your cognitive skills, you are not thoroughly preparing to compete at a high level.

Building Mental Toughness

One strategy for building mental toughness is to train your mind during practice by imagining situations you’ll have in competition.

If you want to compete aggressively late in a game, create that scenario in your mind during practice. For example, tell yourself, “This is a playoff game, and we are tied 1-1. Be aggressive.”

In this scenario, you are training your brain as to how you want to perform in competition.

Practicing mental toughness will help you play with mental toughness in games.

Related Sports Psychology Articles

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!

Learn more about our one-on-one mental game coaching.

The Confident Athlete

The Confident Athlete

“The Confident Athlete” consists of 2 audio programs that include 14 days of confidence fueling exercises and a simple to follow workbook that guides you through the 14 days, helps you apply the strategies, and customizes the exercises to your personal needs.

Let me help you put a stop to the confidence leak. You can learn to have greater levels of confidence in competition than you do in practice by identifying the specific ways you undermine your own confidence and how to convert your practice confidence into COMPETITIVE CONFIDENCE.

“The Confident Athlete” is a ground-breaking system to teach you how to think like a champion and have ultimate self-confidence every time you step on the playing field, court, track, or course. The confident athletes was developed for any athlete – junior to professional –that wants to gain confidence. However, coaches and sports parents can learn how to teach others to perform with ultimate confidence. Use my program if you want to bust a slump or just wanting higher or more consistent levels of self-confidence.

Leave a Comment