One of the benefits of mental training or mental coaching is that athletes and other high performers gain what is popularly referred to as better or improved “mental toughness.” Let’s look a little closer at this concept.
While the person going through a great training program in sports psychology is not being guided to be meaner or rougher necessarily, he or she is learning to let go of fears and just perform well regardless of the situation or outside expectations. In this sense, the athlete is becoming tougher. Rather than being too sensitive or fragile in difficult circumstances, the performer has learned to not only survive in tough challenges but ideally to welcome and seek out difficulty! Dr. John F Murray has often written and spoken about the ideal mental state as when the performer “loves tough challenges” because once that state of mind is achieved, very little can throw that person off their game.
Mental toughness might be seen in the way a gymnast with a cold finds a way to keep a positive attitude and push that illness into the background of their mind while finding a way to still compete at the highest level. It is seen in the way an NFL quarterback like Tom Brady throws a pick 6, and then comes right back as if nothing had happened and leads his team on a long touchdown drive with poise. It might also be seen with an LPGA golfer sinking a 12 foot putt for the title in adverse conditions. The bottom line is that sports constantly challenge us in ways that are very tough, so becoming mentally tougher is a way to overcome the adversity, cope better with the stress, and thrive despite all the negatives, or to even turn those negatives into positives.
There are literally hundreds of articles on this website that deal with issues of mental toughness and show the human spirit, properly guided, overcoming all the difficulties and finding a way to make it happen. If you have a particular situation in mind (such as the need for greater confidence or focus) and you would like to find articles on that topic, just go to the search window in the upper right corner of this site, and search, and you will find a ton of interesting reads.
While books, articles, videos, audios, speeches and seminars are excellent ways to acquire knowledge and learn more about sports psychology techniques and how to perform better, keep in mind that nothing works better than one-on-on individual professional services. People are too unique to respond well to a cookie cutter approach. The good sports psychologist will first do a detailed assessment and find out what your needs and weaknesses are, in addition to your strengths, and then develop a specialized program to help you become a champion mentally.