Mental training seems to be more accepted by athletes and people in general now. But, biases from the past still persist. Check out this article in Peak Performance Sports by Patrick Cohn on How to Overcome Athletes’ Resistance to Mental Training. If you find yourself resisting mental training, then consider these resistances and suggestions to move beyond them:
- Coaches and teammates will think I’m weak if I embrace mental training.
- If my coaches don’t use mental training, why should I?
- Performing well is about working hard, not about what goes on in my head.
- Something must be wrong with me if I use mental training.
Suggestions to move beyond resistances:
- Top athletes are interested in improving everything about themselves, which includes mental training. On a more personal note, if you’re worried about how others perceive you, then that perception itself points to your need for mental training.
- Your coaches probably do use mental training; they may have developed it through unconventional means, through their own efforts. Regardless, you need to focus on having a complete training program if you want to improve.
- Working hard includes both physical and mental training. Mental training helps you understand when and why you’re doing well. It addresses your motivation for being in the arena in the first place.
- Consider that something is wrong with you if you do mental training, just as something is wrong with you if you do physical training. What’s wrong with you is that something is lacking, some physical or mental skill. Therefore, accept that you are on a learning journey that includes all aspects of your current state.
On a broader note, mental training is of primary importance. Your mental state influences everything you do with your physical training, how you practice, and how you perform in competition. What you conceive in your mind flows into your training, how you practice, and how you perform. Your mindset determines everything. If you don’t get some control over your mindset, then everything you do will be misguided and you’ll end up injuring yourself, losing motivation, or quitting an activity you used to enjoy.
Practice tip: List Reasons to Train Your Mind
One way to begin understanding the importance of training the mind is listing reasons for doing so. Such a list can increase your motivation to move in that direction. Here are some questions that can help you make a list of reasons to do mental training:
- Do you experience anxiety?
- Do you feel frustrated because you’re not progressing?
- Do you experience fear?
- Do you find it difficult to stay focused?
- Are you losing motivation and feeling discouraged?
- Have you hit a performance plateau you have difficulty breaking through?
Answering “yes” to any of these questions indicates that you need mental training. Now add other reasons you can think of. Doing mental training can give you more peace of mind within the stressful situations you engage in. It can make you want to be in the middle of stressful situations and find meaning there.