Are you or your players afraid other athletes will see you as weak if you have to do mental training or work with a sports psychologist? Still today, athletes buy into myths about sports psychology, which prevent them from embracing the benefits of sports psychology. I recently received an email from a young hockey player getting ready for try outs. This hockey player states:
“I have friends who perform better than me and they don’t read any mental training books. Every time I open my mental training book I feel no motivation to read because better athletes don’t do anything to mentally prepare themselves. I feel that I’m weak by being probably the only guy going to try-outs that reads mental training books. I have only heard of a very few great athletes that do mental preparation.”
When I receive these emails from athletes, I’m surprised that people still view sports psychology as a weakness and thus think they are inferior because they need to do mental training. Unfortunately, a few athletes still buy into myths about sports psychology and thus shy away. This is an interesting–and misguided–conception about the value of sports psychology.
One of the hallmarks of great athletes is their interest in improving themselves. That doesn’t just apply to their physical skills; it applies to their mental game, as well. There’s nothing weak, wimpy or sissy-like about being willing and eager to improve oneself and one’s performance.
I do think that some athletes are naturally more talented than others and confidence comes easily for them. Other athletes have to work harder in sports to keep up and they might not develop the confidence they need to be fully confident. In any case, athletes at all levels are using mental training and sports psychology to become better athletes–no matter if they are in a slump or trying to keep a winning streak alive.
I also know that athletes in some sports embrace sports psychology more than others. In golf, tennis, and baseball, for example, athletes accept mental training as another type of performance enhancement. In addition, many professional athletes attribute their success to mental toughness including golfer Tiger Woods, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, and basketball player Michael Jordan….
“The most important attribute a soccer player must have is mental toughness. Before you can win, you must have the will to prepare to win.”
Lastly, if you or your athletes worry that others think you’re weak (if you do mental training) spend too much time thinking about how others view you. You can’t worry about what others think about your training or your game. If this is you, you’re great candidates for mental training! With mental training, you can learn to “tune out” worries about what others think of you and focus on what’s most important-playing the game and performing your best.
Athletes are more likely to embrace sports psychology when they understand it and its benefits. However, the best way for athletes to buy into mental training is when they actually experience its power firsthand. Sports psychology helps athletes perform more consistently, find the zone more often, keep a winning streak alive, and learn how to think well under pressure.