When most people think of athletic strength, they think of athletes doing exercises and building muscle to increase their power and endurance.
And, while physical strength is an important part of being an athlete, mental strength is equally important.
When an athlete is mentally strong, he can always perform at his best, no matter what. Even if the competition is very tough or he’s not feeling great, a mentally strong athlete can push through and play strong.
So, you may be wondering, how do you build mental strength? Well, like physical strength, it takes regular “exercise” and practice.
Know Your Weaknesses
When you go to the gym, you focus on areas that need more development. The same thing needs to be done when building mental toughness. Athletes must carefully observe themselves and make note of their mental weaknesses. From there, they have to come up with a plan to combat those weaknesses.
Consider if and when you become distracted on the ice, what causes you to get frustrated and lose your temper, or what kind of things lead you to feeling and acting defeated.
If you can identify your triggers and the bad thoughts or attitudes they cause, you’ll find it much easier to come up with an actionable plan to keep these things from happening. Whether it’s giving yourself an inner pep talk when you feel discouraged or taking a few deep breaths to say calm, addressing mental weaknesses is a huge step toward building mental strength and toughness.
Let Go of the Past
Many athletes falter and fail because they cannot stop beating themselves up over things that went wrong in the past. Or, they’re so fearful of repeating a past mistake that they let their fear hold them back from playing their best.
Be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re holding onto a fear or a regret from a past game. Then, actively work on letting it go to increase mental strength and health.
These are just a couple of strategies for building mental toughness. Work with a coach or even a sports psychologist to discover more strategies and put them to the test.