What does it mean to be mentally tough? We hear this term a lot in sport psychology, but unless we truly understand what that means, we don’t know what we are aiming for. Specifically, what is it that makes one athlete tougher than another?
Characteristics of mentally tough:
Perseverance – It takes mental strength to dig deep and find the motivation to keep going when the road gets rough.
Resiliency – Mentally tough athletes bounce back from adversity. They learn from their mistakes and disappointments and use that information to strengthen their future performances.
Flexibility – When we become nervous, we tend to lose our mental flexibility. We freeze up or become locked on specific thoughts or feelings. This makes it difficult for us to adjust to changing conditions during a performance. Mentally tough athletes are able to maintain their cognitive flexibility throughout a performance and respond to conditions around them as needed.
Awareness – Mentally tough athletes are aware of what is going on both within themselves and their performance environment. Information is power and getting to know yourself and how you respond to pressure gives you a head start on mental toughness.
Courage – Elite performers take risks. They step out of their comfort zone and push the limits to raise the bar.
Disciplined Thinking – Mentally tough athletes maintain control of both their thoughts and emotions regardless of what is going on around them. This enables them to make better decisions and respond accurately.
Self-Belief – Mentally tough athletes have a realistic belief in themselves. They are able to curb self-doubt and follow through with confidence that they really can achieve whatever it is that they set out to do.
Intrinsic Motivation – Mentally tough athletes are internally driven to succeed rather than lured by promises of rewards and fame.
How tough are you mentally? Do you have the mental skills to get you through the rough times and keep you resilient? The road to the top is never easy and you will need some mental strength to help you get there. Are you taking to time you need to build those internal resources?