How to Overcome Athletes’ Resistance to Mental Training

Benefits of Mental Training

What Top Athletes Have Benefited From Mental Training?

Whether athletes are young or college-age, talented or less talented, they all can benefit from mental training. Yet, a number of obstacles prevent athletes from embracing it.

What does this mean for parents and coaches? Read on and you’ll learn how to help athletes overcome their resistance to mental training.

First, the obstacles. Here are just some of the reasons young athletes give for resisting mental training. They might say:

  • Coaches and teammates will think they’re weak if they embrace mental training.
  • If their coaches don’t use mental training, why should they?
  • Performing well is about working hard, not about what goes on in athletes’ heads.
  • Something must be wrong with athletes to use mental training.

Let’s debunk these issues one-by-one.

First, all great athletes have one thing in common: They are interested in improving themselves—including their mental game. There’s nothing weak or wimpy about taking advantage of mental training.

Says Mia Hamm, “The most important attribute a soccer player must have is mental toughness. Before you can win, you must have the will to prepare to win.”

What’s more, athletes who worry that they’ll be seen as wimpy should embrace mental training because they think too much about how others view them!

Second obstacle: Many coaches—especially good ones—use mental training intuitively. If they don’t, they often don’t know much about sports psychology.

After all, they haven’t received any instruction in it! It’s more than likely that coaches who learn about the benefits of mental training will use it with their teams. But individual sport athletes might not have the same exposure to mental training.

Third: Yes, hard work and dedication are critical to performing well. But athletes need to understand when and why they’re doing well. That’s where mental training comes in! What’s more, athletes might perform well in practice, but not during competitions.

Again, sports psychology can help athletes solve this—and many other challenges.

If you want to convince athletes to take advantage of mental training, you need to dispel these and other myths they buy into.

You might tell your athletes they’re not broken or dysfunctional if they need mental training.

You want to educate them on the real purpose of mental training: to improve performance and consistency in sport.

You also need to explain the many benefits of mental training—how, for example, it helps athletes boost confidence, improve their focus, prepare mentally, and improve their performance.

You might also discuss role models that use mental training, such as Mia Hamm and many other top athletes who have benefited from mental game coaching.

Check out our video of the week, How Self-Intimidation Destroys Confidence

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