What mental skills do you need for success in sport?

What mental skills do you need for success in sport?

You don’t have to be a professional footballer or an Olympic athlete to succeed in sport. You don’t even need a room full of trophies or make the local news because of your sporting exploits. Successful athletes are people who achieve their own goals they set. If you set yourself a target to complete a half marathon and then go on to achieve that goal, you are successful!

So we explore a number of mental skills that can help achieve the goals you set yourself.

1. Attitude

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Realise that your attitude towards anything is a choice.
  • Choose a positive attitude towards your goals.
  • View your sport as an opportunity to compete against yourself.
  • Pursue excellence instead of perfection – also realise that coaches, friends, teammates and officials aren’t perfect either.
  • Maintain a balance with other aspects of your life.
  • Respect everybody you come up against and interact with.

2. Motivation

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Understand the benefits and achievements that you can experience through participation.
  • Persist through hard times and difficult situations – understand that the benefits and rewards may not be instant.
  • Realise that you gain the benefits from participating, not only winning.

3. Goals and commitment

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Set short and long-term goals that are realistic, measurable and that have deadlines.
  • Be aware of your performance and are able to work on your weaknesses to help achieve your goals.
  • Be truly committed in completing your goals.

4. People skills

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Realise that you have friends, family, coaches and teammates who also want you to succeed.
  • Communicate your feelings to your network when you need to, and listen to others as well.
  • Manage conflict well – conflict arises from opponents, teammates and even from within.

5. Self-talk

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Maintain your self-confidence when facing difficult times through positive self-talk.
  • Talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend.
  • Use positive self-talk to manage your feelings when taking part in competitions and regular day-to-day activities.

6. Mental imagery

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Prepare yourself for training and competitions by imagining a good performance.
  • Create mental images that are realistic, detailed and specific.

7. Manage anxiety

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Accept that anxiety comes with taking part in sport.
  • Realise that small amounts of anxiety can help you perform well.
  • Know of ways to help reduce anxiety.

8. Concentration

To be successful you need to try to:

  • Keep your concentration at all times.
  • Learn how to maintain focus, even if there are distractions.
  • Be able to regain focus when it is lost.
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Ross East

Written by Ross East

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