While working with a group of experienced Distance Runners at the Sportzmind Workshop our aim was to determine the meaning of Mental Toughness and how to create it. This term is used frequently by Coaches, Competitors and the media with reference to personal sport performance. Quotes like “My Mental Toughness got me through”are common in sport.
Each runner was asked for their understanding of Mental Toughness. This prompted a discussion, leading to a group debate.
What is Mental Toughness?
The group collectively agreed mental toughness was having the ability to manage thoughts of doubt, frustration and fear regardless of what challenges occur. Control one’s thoughts and carry on regardless. Mental Toughness was determined to be an ability. Learned by understanding how to influence and control ongoing Conscious Thoughts during an event. The outcome, to achieve the best possible performance on every occasion.
How can this state be gained?
The state of Mental Toughness is gained by deciding what thoughts to reside with. Inserting productive thoughts into the mind for the performance needed and continuing to feed the mind with positive’s to create a path for the physical body to follow.
Using self-talk to inspire Mental Toughness.
Self-talk is a direct reflection of thought. It can be repeated out loud or exist in the silence of the mind. Self-talk is a way we communicate with ourselves. The Mind is always in constant motion. We are forever thinking, processing thoughts and having Self-Conversations. Everyone has the choice and ability to determine what self-talk is repeated. Self-talk is a practical and influential strategy, it can be used to provide determination and motivation during a race, greatly improving performance output.
While running a race, intentionally make up empowering self-talk and repeat it throughout the duration of the race. Statements like “I always perform to my peak” or “I overcome all challenges”. “I have got this”. Create statements that assist and inspire you. The type of thoughts fed into the mind through self-talk influences the energy in the physical body. Negative thoughts reduce energy. Positive thoughts increase energy. If the mind is permitted to feed itself with thoughts of doubt, fear, frustration and loss the effects on Personal Performance will be limiting and produce inconsistent results.
The effect of self-talk on the sub conscious mind, habits, mental blueprints and behavior.
Empowering or restricting, harmful or helpful, it doesn’t matter to the Sub-Conscious mind what type of self-talk or thoughts are contemplated. It does matter to you and your performance. Through repetition self-talk and thoughts are heard by the sub-conscious and become imprinted into the sub-conscious mind influencing personal ability. What is said and done regularly becomes part of sports performances in the form of mental blueprints, habits and behaviors. As a coach or athlete it is important to understand the power and influence of words, thoughts and self-talk provide in any performance. After-all the mind powers the body.
Filling the mind with thoughts of inspiration and self-empowerment is necessary to form a Mental Blueprint for Mental Toughness and ongoing and successful future performances.
Get the Mind right and the rest will follow!
Article by Ron Lewis