A right mindset is one of the determinants of an athlete’s performance, right along with his or her physical condition and technical skills. Just as there is a set of well-known physical characteristics of a champion (i.e., strength, speed, and stamina), there is a set of mental factors identified as part of a winner’s mindset. They are confidence, concentration, consistency and control. Mindset is important for several reasons. Often this is the factor is the difference between being good or the best.
Research has revealed that at least 50 percent of athletic performance successes and even more athletic performance errors and failures are due to mental factors. Often times, talents plus physical and technical training can take athletes and teams only so far before they reach a performance plateau. Mental training will carry athletes to the next level.
In their practices, mental training for athletes incorporates many psychological principles, such as behavioral analysis, anxiety, arousal, attention, motivation, and aggression, personality assessment for individuals, and leadership and cohesion for teams. The specific techniques used in mental conditioning or inner mental training include:
• Autogenic Training: Learn about personal physiological responses to stress in order to control those responses.
• Imagery/Simulation: Mental rehearsal your performance.
• Positive Visualization: “See” yourself perform with excellence in your mind.
• Relaxation Training: Use various relaxation methods to help with consistency and performance.
• Concentration Training: Learn to tune out distracters and develop focusing strategies.
• Positive Thought Training / Cognitive Restructuring: Change thinking patterns: Catch negative thoughts and stop them; think positive instead.
• Biofeedback for relaxation
• Hypnosis for inner control
• Confidence Training: Develop your own way of building confidence.
• Emotion Regulation Training: Learn to regulate emotional responses to situations during competitions.
• Goal Setting: High but attainable goals often best motivate athletes.
• Thought Stopping and Cognitive Behavioral Control