“It’s going to be a mental battle, you totally got this!”
As athletes, we have all heard this countless times, typically when we are about to face a brutal workout or race. Most of the time when we hear these words, they are far from comforting as what we are about to be confronted with is a very physiological pain.
“Seriously, ‘it’s all mental?’ That's all you got?!” is something you might want to say but don’t say to your coach when you're disappointed that they don't give you some secret advice that will guarantee victory.
Call the feeling what you want- stress, anxiety, worry, regretfulness. It is all hindering your chances of being a better athlete.
The athletes who stand on the medal podium are physically strong, but what makes them the winners is their mental strength. Maintaining a steadfast mindset in times of competition is something that all dominant athletes attribute to their success, even more so than their physical preparation.
Becoming mentally strong is not something that transpires the night before the big competition. Just like growing muscle and expanding endurance, becoming mentally strong requires intentional and habitual practice. Putting the physical work in is without a doubt necessary, but mental preparation is equally a requisite.
Deciding to transform into a mentally strong athlete on race day is an unrealistic expectation considering that mental tenacity requires more time to grow than muscle.
There are three simple steps that you can start taking to begin building your mental fortitude. Making a habit of these three steps will amplify your mentality into the mindset of a champion.
Step 1: Be a Nutrivore
Nutrition’s position is irreplaceably foundational to all health, including mental strength.
Unlike what you may have been taught to believe, there is an overwhelming connection between one’s physical state and mental health.
For example, synthesizing the mood-enhancing hormones melatonin and dopamine require very specific micronutrients such as iron, folate, and vitamin D. If individuals are deficient in these key nutrients, which many athletes are, the production of these hormones is impaired. Thus, leading to a lack of self-confidence that seems so “mental”.
Not only is there a positive physiological response from fueling your body with nutritious foods, opting for meats and veggies over donuts and cereals will contribute to building an undeviating mind. Knowing that most athletes are far less conscientious about their dietary habits than you are, will rocket power your mentality into thoughts of certainty free from inhibition instead of the feeling of insecurity that comes from a diet absent of nutrition.
Step 2: Find a Good Training Partner
In order to grow as human beings, we need people in our lives that are constantly challenging and encouraging us to do so. The presence of a training partner when you are facing a daunting workout will literally empower you to go beyond what you think you are capable of doing.
Much assurance is sanctioned when you find a training partner who shares the same physical struggles.
Having a companion in times of tests will reaffirm your composure and surety and the reciprocal confidence that you and your training partner place in each other will stem to reaching new heights that would not be met by going at it alone. Communicating your personal goals to your training partner will not only keep you accountable, it will alleviate much of the strain you place on yourself to try to conquer a challenging task alone, thus, leading to a stronger mental game.
Being reliant upon other people does not reflect weakness. To the contrary, it shows a genuine desire to grow as a human and athlete. Hearing words of truth and motivation are essential for keeping your mind untouched by doubt and stress.
Choose a training partner that believes in you even when you do not believe in yourself.
Step 3: Imagine Success
How do you think you are going to accomplish outstanding athletic feats if you are not envisioning yourself being the champion you wish to be?
The power of positive imagery in athletics is something that the large majority of Olympic champions regularly practice to upregulate their mental game. Not only is it scientifically founded that picturing yourself succeeding will lead to more advantageous outcomes, success-based imagery is the easiest technique to start incorporating at this very moment.
The next time you go to workout, begin preparing for the workout hours prior to getting to the gym by picturing yourself being an untamable beast. Anticipate the inevitable doubtful thoughts that come with a challenging task and combat the negativity by seeing yourself overcoming and pushing through the difficult workout.
Mental preparation is what separates the elite athletes from the good athletes.
It should not go underemphasized, athletes must imagine success to have success.
If you find yourself struggling to become mentally stronger, these three ways will accelerate the process of building an untiring psyche in very considerable ways.
Our bodies are capable of accomplishing so much more than what we give them credit for. When we see a dominant athlete, the first thing we attribute to their success is their advantageous genetics.
While genes do play a role in being a good athlete, the power of believing in yourself is what brings athletes to break world records and win gold medals.