Are You Training to be Mentally Tough?

May 5, 2020

One of the great characteristics which separates a good athlete from an elite athlete is mental toughness. Without it, you will not be able to bridge the gap into greatness. Many athletes and coaches believe mental toughness is one of those “unteachable” qualities that you either have or you don’t have.

The good news is… you can train to be mentally tough. Just as you train in the weight room to become stronger and routinely run through agility drills at practice to improve your foot coordination and speed, so you can train to be a mental powerhouse. 

Let’s talk about visualization. A visualization is a powerful tool you can use to compliment your training regimen and gameday performance. Imagine this… two athletes are in the weight room during a max bench press session. One of the athletes is visualizing his success. He has trained for the past several months to conquer a one rep max of 315. In fact, he has been writing the number 315 down on his note pad for weeks leading up to this day. 

The other athlete has been training but lacks confidence that he can finally have a one rep max of 315 on bench press. He visualizes himself failing, just short of lockout, instead of himself completing the entire movement. Who do you think has a better shot at success to rep 315 on bench press? Athlete number 1. 

I will give you an example from one of my own experiences. A buddy of mine challenged me to a 225 lb. repetition contest. Whoever had achieved the most amount of full repetitions of 225 on flat bench, won the contest. I had a number in my head that I visualized me achieving. So much so, that I wrote the number “23” on the inside of my notebook. For one week I looked at this notebook, visualized how I would perform each repetition, and even thought about how I would feel after I accomplished this goal.

When the day came, I was ready. Carrying my gym back up the steps to the gym, I made my way directly to the bench press and began warming up, with one number in mind… 23, and nothing less.

A group of friends gathered around me as I told them that 23 repetitions were about to happen on this bench press. Had a lot of doubters, a few believers, but it didn’t matter. I knew I was going to accomplish the task at hand. And that is exactly what had happened.

I bench pressed exactly 23 repetitions of 225 lbs. No more, no less, no failed lockout at the end… just a mission accomplished! Visualize setting PR’s in the gym. Visualize game-changing plays, last-second three-pointers, running through the tape of a 26.2-mile course. 

This mental toughness training tip will help you walk up to a challenge with confidence. You trained for this moment, visualized for this moment, now go on and win the moment!