I always stress condition with my basketball players. I don’t mean physical condition only. You cannot attain and maintain physical condition unless you are morally and mentally conditioned.” —John Wooden, college basketball coach
It’s been about a year since the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and they were simply amazing to watch weren’t they? I have so much awe and respect for these elite athletes as they sled, ski, jump and skate, with speed, precision and grace.
It’s not just the Olympics; I have this same feeling when I see an amazing catch in the football, or a precise move in dancing or even an “invisible” technique in the martial art of Bujinkan.
In observing these elite-level athletes, their physical and technical prowess is glaringly evident, and their endurance and technical precision is obvious to anyone who watches their performances.
Knowing the physical and technical strengths of elite-level athletes can be an asset to any developing athletes who are working to enhance their skills. But you already know this, don’t you?
This is part of what you do on a consistent basis—you identify the physical and technical skills you need to better develop to improve your performance, then address them in your daily training.
Less obvious, however, are the mental strength skills and mindset characteristics that play a role in the peak performance of elite-level athletes. When watching these athletes, we can’t see what’s going on in their head; their thoughts, focus, confidence, anxiety, attitude and self-talk. We can see physical and technical characteristics, but we can’t see “what makes them tick.”
Because of this, there is a tendency to only equate performance to observable skills and disregard the other aspects that also impact performance—things like mental training, mindset and mental strength skills.
If we can’t observe these inner strength skills, how do we know they impact performance? One way is to listen to their interviews after a competition or match. If you listen very carefully you’ll heard key words that give away their “unfair advantage.”
In addition, over the years, there has been much research that has looked at whether there are psychological characteristics that are correlated with successful personal performances. From this research, we have a better understanding of the psychological skills and characteristics that seem to relate to successful peak performance.
It’s not suggested that having these characteristics causes peak performance, but rather they seem linked to the ensuing performance. Regardless, having an awareness of the skills that relate to enhanced performance can be an asset to you as you strive to improve your own personal performance. Without further ado, let us take a look at these mental training characteristics related to successful athletic performance, as summarized by Krane and Williams (1):
- High self-confidence
- Arousal management
- Feeling “in control”
- Total concentration
- Focus on the task at hand
- Productive perfectionism
- Positive attitude and thoughts about performance
- Strong determination and commitment
- Detailed planning for competition that includes setting goals, imagery and practicing coping skills
Read slowly and repeatedly through the list. Which characteristics describe you? Which characteristics should you work to develop and/or improve? Make use of this research and hone your mental as well as your physical skills.
I’d suggest making an assessment out of these skills and rate yourself from 1 – 11 (11 being the highest/best). Word of warning from experience….the people that rate themselves at the top (11) in any one aspect usually indicates an unrealistic view of themselves and their performances.
Think about it, if you ranked yourself 11 on any of these traits, where else can you go with it? Nowhere…you’re saying you’re at the top and there’s nothing more to develop in that area. Come on man…are you serious?
Everybody has room to improve!
So, take a close look at the traits and rate yourself, better yet, have a teammate or coach rate you (this takes mental strength for sure to put yourself out there) and compare where you think you are and where others perceive you to be.
What ever the lowest score is, work on that.
- Krane V., and Williams J. Psychological characteristics of peak performance. J. Williams (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (pp. 169 – 188),New York, NY: McGraw Hill. 2010.
If you need some assistance in the assessment or developing any the mentioned mental strength aspects, simply request an Introductory Consultation today.
If you’d to get started on developing your “unfair advantage” pick up a copy of “Develop the Mental Strength of a Warrior” today.
- Mental Strength Tip #19 – Curiosity and Personal Success (warriormindcoach.com)
- Mental Strength Training and Goals For Athletes (warriormindcoach.com)
- Mental Strength Tip #28 – Personal Success and Comebacks (warriormindcoach.com)
- Visualization For Peak Performance (warriormindcoach.com)
- The Action Part of Goal Setting – An Athletic Perspective (warriormindcoach.com)
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