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Mental Toughness

How do we get pumped up, motivated, or prepared to compete? You have to be ready, focused, and mentally hungry if you want to give yourself the best chance to come out on top of any kind of competition.

Sport psychologists deal and discuss so many issues with their clients. Whether it is something related to concentration, an issue with performance anxiety, excessive nervousness before competition, or how to deal with demanding coaches or teammates, there is always a commonality with the issue of being mentally strong enough to weather the storm.

Mental toughness relates to your ability to handle adversity, to perform when the pressure is on and to be so focused that you are able to block out all negativity and adversity you may face in the heat of competition.

Mental toughness does not develop from fear. I believe it develops from one's ability to understand their own personal motivations to succeed. "Mentally tough" athletes usually are the ones who don't flinch when the pressure is on. They live and feed off being the anchor of the last relay that has to win in order for the team to win the meet. They look forward to coming up with the bases loaded and their team down by three runs in the bottom of the ninth. They want to have the ball in their hands with five seconds left and their team down by two. 

Mentally tough athletes aren't born. Anyone can learn to develop mental strengths through experience. Failures are inevitable in athletic competition. Failures are inevitable in life. Failure is quite possibly one of the few things you can count on. They are not situations to be afraid of, but rather situations that can make us stronger and in turn, more successful. By understanding this, you should be hungry to step up and accept a challenge. If you fail, it will only be a lesson. It will not kill you. Just imagine the possibilities if you consistently wanted to take on challenges to see if you can beat them, rather than have them beat you.

It is a choice. It is an attitude; a mindset. It is the way competitive athletes should act and think. Athletes are tough. Have you ever heard of anyone performing extraordinarily well consistently and being mentally weak? Absolutely not.

The only way to achieve success is to understand failure. Muhammad Ali said it best, "Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even."

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