We know the mental game is important, but as with anything, do we know how to actually train it?
Mental toughness is too often confused with physical exertion (e.g., flipping large tires, doing Burpees), and there's often a misguided idea it can be flipped on like a switch (e.g., "Just toughen up"). Both of these myths have little to do with improving your mental game.
Much of what holds us back is simply getting started.
This article is aimed at improving your own mental toughness. It starts with a commitment and answering the question of how much time do I want to invest?
Consistency is key!
It is far better to devote five minutes every day to your mental game than it is to do something for one hour just once a week. You may think that sounds crazy, as five minutes a day adds up to 35 minutes a week, but consistency matters far more than total time spent over a week or month.
You do not need to be crazy about your preparation, but you do need to be consistent.
With that in mind, whether you want to spend five minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, or an hour a day, there are ways you can improve your mental game.
5 Minutes to Improve Your Mental Game
If you only can/will commit a few minutes each day to improving your mental game, the best thing you can do is breathe.
This is the skill you can use everywhere, and it's the simplest to do because it's a basic human necessity.
Every day for five minutes, we need to get centered and present. Breathing is the best practice to get centered, and finding a quick audio file to listen to can help lead you through focused breathing.
15 Minutes to Improve Your Mental Game
This is an optimal amount of time per day to devote to improving your mental game. You can watch an inspirational video, or listen to a motivating podcast in addition to doing five minutes of breathing.
But our top recommendation if you're willing to devote 15 minutes to your mental game every day is to use a notebook! Your notebook is the best coach you'll ever have. You can use it as a gratitude list, and write down 10 things that you are thankful for.
Aim not to repeat what you write down in your gratitude list from day to day. You'll be amazed at the impact this simple habit can have on your mental game.
Or, you can delve deeper and use it as a self-evaluation tool. Two great topics to reflect and write on are:
- 1. What I did well today?
- 2. What did I learn?
1 Hour to Improve Your Mental Games
If you're ready to spend an hour a day improving your mental game, you do things like focused breathing, writing in your notebook and also helping someone else.
I believe we cannot help someone else without also helping ourselves. This is by design.
If left to our own devices, we only focus on ourselves and our own problems. But, If you've ever gotten stuck inside of your own head, then you are behind enemy lines.
The way out is to focus on someone else. Meet with a teammate and hang out with one another outside of practice. Ask them about how they are doing, what is going well, and what they are struggling with. Everyone is dealing with some issue that no one else knows about. But, instead of sharing with one another, we isolate.
An interesting thing occurs when we focus on others. We create a better us and we are helping out and coaching ourselves at the same time. We also get better, because we cannot tell a teammate to "never give up" and then turn around and give up on ourself.
We will still have our own struggles, but when we focus on someone else and take an interest in them, we are no longer fixated on our own stuff, and we are no longer stuck inside of our own head.
You can read more about improving your mental game at DrRobBell.com.
Photo Credit: Nastco/iStock
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