Training emphasizes the physical aspects of sports, but the mental side is often ignored. This could be a missing link in your development as an athlete, because your mindset clearly affects your performance.
People emphasize what they know. You regularly interact with coaches and trainers, so it makes sense that you continue to develop your strength, speed, endurance and skill technique. However, it's difficult to use these attributes in clutch moments if you've never trained to stay focused under extreme pressure.
To bulletproof your mental game, first see where you stand by taking a baseline test. Think of this as a strength training max test, but for your mental toughness. You will see where your weaknesses are and be able to track your progress as you attempt to improve this critical aspect of your sports performance.
Below is the mental game training tool I use with my clients. Take it at the beginning of the season, then retake it at the end of the season to see how you've improved.
Mental Toughness Assessment Test
PLAYER'S NAME: ____________________________________
AGE GROUP: _______________________________________
Player Self Assessment (completed by athlete)
- 5 - Excellent
- 4 - Good
- 3 - Satisfactory
- 2 - Poor
- 1 - Terrible
1. _______ Visual Awareness - notice environmental information, pick up on cues, placement of team members and opponents when competing
2. _______ Confidence - Trust in yourself and your skills
3. _______ Drive - Motivated to consistently do your best
4. _______ Execution - Follow through to completion
5. _______ Focus - Ability to maintain concentration on the task at hand
6. _______ Position - Knowledge of your role and responsibilities
7. _______ Team player - Putting the team first
8. _______ Instinct - Ability to predict an action and trust your gut feelings
9. _______ Strategy - Seeing the big picture
10. _______ Risk - Taking calculated chances
11. _______ Commitment - Readiness to do whatever is necessary to excel
12. _______ Resilience - Can shift tactics as necessary
13. _______ Initiative - Self-starter, do things before others
14. _______ Coachable - Receptive to feedback
- What are the skills and qualities needed to excel in your position?
- What are the skills and qualities needed to excel in your sport?
- What steps help athletes excel?
- What do you need to work on that will improve your performance?
- What actions are you ready to take that will improve your mental game and make you a stronger athlete?
- What's your reason for playing your sport?
- Name three physical attributes that help you in your sport.
- Name three psychological attributes that help you in your sport.
- Name three areas for physical improvement.
- How can you strengthen your skills?
- Identify three areas of your mental game that you'd like to improve.
- How can you strengthen these mental-game skills?
- What was your biggest accomplishment last season?
Place a check next to the activities you do:
_______ Watch video of yourself
_______ Watch video of games and other players
_______ Read sport-specific magazines and articles
_______ Attend clinics and workshops
- What are your goals for next season?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What events do you plan to compete in next season?
Mental Toughness Training
Once you have your results, follow these five tips to get mentally tough.
1. Compare - Go the extra mile by having your coach evaluate your mental game with this test, and compare score.
2. Be Consistent - Routinely take the assessment to see where you stand, and focus on your gains.
3. Create - Plan ways to improve your strengths and cure your weaknesses. You're more likely to stick it out when you help create the plan.
4. Connect - Notice the mental game and performance relationship.
5. Condition - Train your mental game muscle for a competitive edge. Recognized behavior gets repeated.
6. Challenge - Put a reminder in your calendar to take the test at your season's start and finish. With each challenge you face, assess if it's technical, tactical, physical or psychological. Then find the right coach to help you work through the challenge.
- Turn Mental Toughness Into Physical Toughness
- Mental Toughness Begins With Self-Awareness
- 5 Pillar of Mental Toughness
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