Motivational Moment: Mental Preparation
by: John Ellsworth

“”Everyone has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire to prepare.”” —Author Unknown

It has been said that sports are 80% mental and 20% physical. But, most athletes spend nearly 100% of their time refining physical skills, and little to no time working to enhance mental toughness skills. It is this unbalanced approach to practice which widens the gap between average athletes and true champions.

Mental skill requires practice and repetition, just as physical skills are enhanced with routine practice. To build your mental toughness, start by focusing on four basic skills: visualization of how a successful task is performed, use of a pre-execution routine to focus energy on the task, use of breathing techniques to reduce stress or anxiety, and the use of positive self talk to support previous “”successes””.

I challenge you to create a mental skills program that you use daily and can reference during competitive events. For example:

• Create imagery about yourself completing a task successfully. What does it look like? How does it feel?

• What pre-execution steps can help you lock in on your ‘zone’ — touching your cap when at bat, tapping your toe before kick-off, etc.?

• What breathing method works best for you to relieve stress and anxiety?

• What “”reward”” will you give yourself when you achieve success? How will you celebrate successful completion of a task?

Over the next few days, write the answers to the above questions on 3 x 5 cards and rehearse these over. You will be amazed at the difference this exercise will have on your mental toughness and overall performance!

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