By Dr. Patrick Cohn at Peak Performance Sports, LLC.
How do elite athletes separate themselves from other athletes? How do they see themselves?
Some athletes define themselves by their limitations, "I'm shorter than most basketball players," "I'm not as fast as other players on the soccer field," or "I don't have enough speed on my fastball to play college baseball."
When you are focused on limitations or weaknesses, your level of work and preparation will suffer.
Size, ability, and strength are valuable attributes but are not the game changing factors that make athletes elite.
For example, many tennis players had great careers despite not having overpowering strokes. Athletes have made names for themselves by out-hustling other competitors.
What launches athletes to the next level is WORK!
Putting in the work is not limited to working hard in practice. Work also includes preparation (diet, flexibility, strength training) and, most importantly, mental work (confidence building, focusing skills, managing stress, etc).
When you put in the mental work, you learn technical skills quicker and you are better able to replicate those skills under the pressure of competition.
When you put in the mental work, you will maximize your abilities and reach more of your potential.
When you put in the mental work, you perform more consistently and at a higher level.
When you put in the mental work, you are able to meet the demands of competing at a higher level.
Often, the mental aspects, the factors that contribute most to optimal performance, are neglected. Adding mental skills training to your existing work regimen boosts your performance to a new level and helps you achieve more of your potential.
Doing the Mental Work:
Just as your coach has a seasonal plan for your training, you should create a seasonal plan for your mental training.
What mental skills will benefit you most? How will you develop these skills? Where will you engage in mental training? What resources will you utilize to improve your mental game?
Once the physical training is complete and it's time to compete, that's when the mental work pays off. Mental training is just as important, and some may argue more important, than the physical training. Don’t neglect it!