7 Mental tips for Athletic success
By: Ellen Paddock
#1- Think and speak like a winner.
Our actions are directly fueled by what we tell ourselves. It's simple: you get out exactly what you put in. If I am thinking, “Don’t miss this serve,” I instantly have a much higher chance of missing because I have allowed the word “miss” into my head. Visualize exactly how the serve is going to go. Don’t put any other thought in your mind besides exactly what you want to accomplish - give yourself no other choice than to follow through by the way you think. Being successful requires obnoxious and relentless positivity. The beauty of this matter is that you are in control of your own mind
#2 Know what you’re playing for.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25
Don't look around you; look at the task in front of you. That task is to score. If you are focussed on the end result, who is watching, what could happen, what is going to happen, who your opponent is, what your coach will think, what random people in the stands who really don't even care that much will think- you will lose. Don’t compete a certain way to look a certain way. Just be that way. Don’t let your actions and attitude vary based on who is there. The game has to be yours. It has to be you, the ball, your team, and nothing else. That is the only way that you can stay fully engaged. Don’t let anything else into your mind other than what you are trying to accomplish. Hold yourself to such a high standard that your play will not be altered in the presence or absence of any person or changing circumstance.
#3 Be consistent.
Your mind, effort, and attitude need to be consistent. In practice, in a lesson, and in a national final - it is vital that you look at every situation equally or else all your training will go out the door. Treat every situation as important but not particularly special. Remove all doubt and remove all hype. It is important to not let your emotions get in the way of what your body already knows from your training. Don’t place too much emphasis on any given game. When competing in an important match keep the same mindset as you would have in practice because if you are too excited your movement won’t be as fluid. Focus on being calm, calculated, and aggressive. This means that you need to practice as you would intend to compete in a match. Once you deem a game or practice “unimportant” or “easy” you have stepped out of the champion mindset and into the loser mindset.
#4 Compete with your whole heart.
Play with your whole heart or not at all. Chances are a lot of people have invested time and money into what you are doing - it is vital that you give everything you can. There is value in what you are doing. When you compete you need to always have a sense of gratitude that motivates you to leave it all out on the court. Be completely committed to every move that you make. If you are going for a ball, go 100%. Competition consists of a limited amount of opportunities. The athlete who is not scared to seize every opportunity will win. Playing with your whole heart also includes playing fearlessly- when you compete timidly you have prioritized your image as an athlete over all your goals of succeeding.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” - Colossians 3:23
#5 Make sacrifices.
Being great at something requires sacrifices. A party this Friday night? Nope, not going. Not because you “aren’t any fun,” but because being a champion requires being a champion all the time and through every choice. Your friends won’t understand these sacrifices and will call you a try hard or obsessed. These are great compliments because great people do in fact try hard and are obsessed. When working to be the best at something there is a good chance that you’ll have to trade up the notorious “Highschool experience” for championships and scholarships, I’d say it’s beyond worth it. The majority of people are okay with mediocrity, so it is not uncommon for someone who strives for greatness to not fit in with the crowd.
#6 Build your foundation
Your success in your sport cannot determine your worth. Your whole self worth as a human is a lot to base off of a performance, but many athletes tend to do this. Since this can be detrimental and cause extreme mental highs and lows, you need to build your foundation and know your worth. Your personal faith needs to be your base and highest priority. This will give you something more to play for and will keep you from falling into extreme highs and lows. Know where you stand and know that a bad performance won’t define who you are. Next, cultivate a persistently confident mindset that will carry you through disappointments. This is done by training your mind to think positively.
#7 Love the grind.
Love the process not the outcome. If you don't love the process of working hard then you don’t deserve the end result nor will you achieve the end result. You win the title during the year, not at the tournament. Winning is a cumulation of workouts and practices that are performed prior to the actual championship match. When the time comes to compete, whoever trained better and harder will win if they execute, and it’ll just be a matter of putting all the work they have done on paper. Loving the grind includes being obsessed and passionate about what you are doing. Every practice is something to be pumped up about. Winners are insane about their craft, on fire for what they want, do the extra work, and find ways to be better to gain edges over their opponents. When you train like a true champion you can trust your training and competition isn’t something that takes you by surprise. You are beyond prepared and equipped to compete freely with your whole heart.