10 Strategies To Develop Mental Toughness

What Is Mental Toughness

How do world champions, olympic athletes or record breakers, stick it out through pain and suffering to achieve their goals? My research indicates that one of the most essential  attributes of any  championship performance is their mental game.

I started probing into the concept of mental toughness  and discovered that mental toughness, is like physical fitness. It is a skill that is developed over time. Mental toughness is essentially what separates Olympians from their peers and vaulted them to the most elite athletic stage.

Eliud Kipchoge (the greatest, grittiest marathoner of all time) said:

“If you don’t rule your mind, your mind will rule you

Unlike fake toughness; like the guy picking a fight at your local gym,  the bully at school or the boss who masks his own insecurities by screaming at his  subordinates—real toughness, the kind Eliud Kipchoge  exemplifies, comes from your core, your beliefs, your values and heart.

Common Traits of mentally tough athletes

Unshakable Self-Belief: People who are mentally tough have complete self-belief in their own ability, an unshakable faith that they are in complete control of their own destiny, and a conviction that they will be relatively unaffected by setbacks.

Positive Attitude: Mentally tough athletes realise that their attitude is a choice. They leave no room for negativity, self-doubt or self-limiting beliefs.  They focus on building a strong, positive mindset

Remain persistent despite of failure –Mentally tough athletes are never defeated by failure. Mentally tough athletes understand that failure is another step in the journey towards accomplishment. Mentally tough athletes have the mindset that failure is not final and never quit pursuing their objectives.

Clear daily Goals: The best athletes had clear daily goals. They knew what they wanted to accomplish each day, each workout, each sequence or interval. They were determined to accomplish these goals and focused fully on doing so.

Practice Visualisation: Athletes with mental toughness had very well developed imagery skills and used them daily. They used visualisation  to prepare themselves to get what they wanted out of training, to perfect skills within the training sessions, to make technical corrections, to imagine themselves being successful in competition, and to see themselves achieving their ultimate goal.

In Control: All mentally tough athletes feel that they control their performance regardless of external forces. They possess an unshakeable faith that they can control their own performance and they remain unaffected by competition or adversity.

How to develop mental toughness

#1 Understand that habits require repetition over time. The more you respond to adversity as a challenge to overcome, the more you strengthen your mental toughness muscle.

#2 When adversity hits, press the reset button. In other words, get over it and focus on the next challenge.

#3 Determine the positive mental and physical steps you will take to meet the next challenge head on.

Mental toughness is built through small physical wins

You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body.

Mental toughness is about your habits, not your motivation.
Motivation is fickle. Willpower comes and goes.

Mental toughness isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to a schedule and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.

Mentally tough people don’t have to be more courageous, more talented, or more intelligent — just more consistent. Mentally tough people develop systems that help them focus on the important stuff regardless of how many obstacles life puts in front of them. It’s their habits that form the foundation of their mental beliefs and ultimately set them apart.

10 strategies to develop mental toughness

Work on your weaknesses first. 

Focus on achieving your goals daily. No excuses, no matter how hard or tough it is.

Be a self-starter: The root of mental toughness lies in motivation. People who are intrinsically motivated are self-starters, willing to push themselves to the brink for the love of their sport or activity.

Remain Positive: Stay optimistic especially during rough patches. Positive self-talk and a positive attitude will get you through the tough workouts. Remove any limiting beliefs.

Identify situations where you normally backed down or were not mentally tough and find different ways to respond.

During difficult skills, training sets or practices have a “go-for-it” mentality.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.You’ve decided to start. You’re not seeing results. It’s difficult. You want to quit. It’s OK. Just keep pushing forward.

Push yourself past your comfort zone.

Embrace the pain. Remember that pain is driving your growth.

Be consistent: Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. 

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