How to Be Mentally Tough in Sports

Being mentally tough promotes coolness, confidence and composure so you and your team succeed in most game situations. Here are six keys to being mentally tough when competing in sports.


  1. Image titled Be Mentally Tough in Sports Step 1
    Take a deep breath. One deep breath will help you relax, feel calmer, stay composed, reestablish your focus, see clearer and slow down what is happening around you in that moment so you can get a handle on how you want to respond. (An athlete will often take short or shallow breaths when he or she feels stress or anxiety, and thereby will have less oxygen going to the lungs which slows the body and brain down.)
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    Remember why you love to play the game. This will fuel your desire to play and your devotion to the game. (When an athlete is only thinking about why he or she doesn't like the sport, that athlete will begin to feel emotionally and physically drained.)
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    Think of all the ways you serve or help your team. You play big when you believe you have something to offer to serve the greater good and help your team succeed. (Too many athletes think that if they are not the stars of the team, they have nothing to offer. And when they do this, they begin to withdraw and pull back from participating and putting forth their best effort.)
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    Ask the right questions. You want to ask questions about things you have control over and that put you in a positive and productive state of mind: what are my strengths? what can I do today to get better? how can I improve my focus? how do I visualize success? what am I grateful for? (An athlete needs to be careful not to ask questions that he or she has no control over and puts the athlete in a negative state of mind:why is the weather so bad? why do the refs call more fouls on my team? why is the coach not putting me in the game?)
  5. Image titled Be Mentally Tough in Sports Step 5
    Create positive expectations about yourself and your abilities as an athlete. Positive expectations trigger positive beliefs about yourself and lay the foundation for positive behaviors on the field or court. (If an athlete has negative or low expectations, he or she will play to those expectations and under perform.)
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    Keep your mouth closed and smile. No matter what happens in a practice or game, just smile. (If a ref makes a call that you don't agree with, you look straight at the ref, keep your mouth closed and smile, and say to yourself -"no problem" or "it's ok". Then you briefly nod your head, turn around and as you are walking away you tell yourself - "we need these refs to keep control of the game".)


  • Practice varied mental skills and conceptualizations so that you will excel in sports.

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Categories: Team Sports | Sports Leadership