If an athlete is struggling with a mental aspect of their game, they often don’t know how to address the challenge.
They simply don’t know where to start.
And as a result, they do nothing...
These challenges can be anything.
From nerves and anxiety to performing really well in training but not taking this into competition.
You name it.
✖️ Poor decision-making.
✖️ Not coping with pressure.
✖️ Bad self-talk.
✖️ Lack of confidence.
✖️ Poor focus or concentration.
✖️ Getting angry while competing (i.e. losing composure).
✖️ Issues with coaches, parents or teammates.
✖️ Insecurities or fear around competitors.
The list goes on and on, and differs in scope and intensity from one athlete to the next.
"The most important thing sport psychology has taught me is that nothing is ever a problem, only a challenge.
I believe that without the help of a sport psychologist mental barriers could begrudge you the opportunity of reaching your full potential."
Nathania Van Niekerk:
South African 200m Backstroke Champion
Even if an athlete knows what to do, there is a common misconception that mental training can be done now and then.
Or, “I’ll fit it in when it suits me”.
Let’s contrast this with physical or technical training which gets diligently scheduled into the calendar... weeks or months in advance.
If you don't make mental training a priority in your calendar, it won't get done.
And yip, you guessed it…
If it doesn't get done, you'll have no advantage over your competition.
Even the best knowledge in the world means nothing without action.
Mental training isn’t more difficult than physical training.
It’s just different.
But most athletes are very achievement orientated. They want to be good at things and they want to be good at them right away.
So this is what happens:
An athlete acquires the necessary knowledge and comes up with a pretty good plan of action.
But when things don’t improve as quickly as they would like them to, they give up altogether.
Without staying power, even the best-laid plans will yield disappointing results.