So you have made the decision to begin the journey to improving your mental skills, OR maybe you haven’t reached that far and are only considering it. Improving your mental skills is not as straightforward as it seems but can have an amazing impact on your performance. Like any physical training program it takes hard-work, sacrifice and commitment. It may even require you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. However if you ask any athlete who has gone through the process he or she will probably tell you that it was worth it. Before embarking on your journey here are some key elements to consider:
Desire for Improvement
Throughout my experience it is safe to say that the athletes who truly desire improvement are the ones that yield the best results. These are the ones who are internally motivated and are willing to put in the work. It is important to ask yourself if you are willing to do what it takes or what is required of you before embarking on the process and expecting immediate or phenomenal results.
Knowing yourself is essential to the improvement process. As the saying goes ‘You don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.’ A certain degree of self-awareness must be present in order to know your reactions, triggers, limitations etc. With this in hand you are able to adequately navigate your way through the improvement process. Honesty with self is essential as well especially for accountability and commitment to the process of improving mental skills.
When learning or acquiring a new skill, practice is a critical component for improvement. Practice should be structured, consistent and deliberate:
Structured: Have a set plan for what you need to practice, weather it may running an imagery script, journaling or executing your routine, you should know what components need to be complete to get the task done.
Consistent: There should be a specific time set aside for practicing your mental skills. It is important to know when you have time in your schedule or during what situations/activities you need to practice your skills.
Deliberate: The effort you put into practicing your mental skills is directly proportional to what you will yield. Your effort is compulsory.
(NO) Fear of Failure
Failure is usually not part of any athlete’s vocabulary. However without failure how do you learn? It is important to understand that failure at some point is inevitable and that it can be useful in creating new pathways for improvement….Plan B or C, D, E F… It can help you figure out what truly works for you. Journaling and self-assessment are integral parts in the process of deciphering what helps and what doesn’t. Bottom line, you are not immune to failure and instead of allowing it to derail you, you can use it to construct an improved track.