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Mastering the Nine Mental Skills for Athletic Success:

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Achieving athletic success isn't limited to professional athletes or those with numerous accolades. Success in sports can be attained by individuals of all ages and skill levels. Whether it's a young figure skater, a high school golfer, a middle-aged marathon runner, a record-holding weightlifter, or an Olympic medalist, their dedication, goal-setting, and enjoyment of their sport contribute to their achievements. At Athlete IQ we work with athletes to develop and improve nine essential mental skills that pave the way for success in sports and beyond.

The Nine Mental Skills:

Cultivating a Positive Attitude:

  • Recognize that attitude is a conscious choice.

  • Embrace a predominantly positive mindset.

  • View their sport as a chance to compete against themselves and learn from both victories and setbacks.

  • Strive for excellence rather than perfection, acknowledging that everyone, including themselves, has imperfections.

  • Maintain a healthy balance between their sport and other aspects of life.

  • Demonstrate respect for their sport, fellow participants, coaches, officials, and themselves.

Sustaining High Self-Motivation and Self Discipline:

  • Understand the rewards and benefits that sports participation brings.

  • Persevere through challenges and tough times, even when immediate rewards are not evident.

  • Appreciate that the true benefits come from participation itself, rather than solely from the outcome.

  • Understanding that mental toughness comes from doing the things that you don't like doing

Setting Realistic and Ambitious Goals:

  • Establish both long-term and short-term goals that are measurable, realistic, and time-bound.

  • Assess their current performance levels and develop detailed plans to achieve their goals.

  • Show unwavering commitment to their goals and diligently follow their training programs.

Nurturing People Skills:

  • Acknowledge their place within a broader system that includes family, friends, teammates, coaches, and others.

  • Communicate effectively with others, expressing their thoughts, feelings, and needs, while also actively listening to others.

  • Develop effective strategies for handling conflicts, difficult opponents, and negative or oppositional individuals.

Utilising Positive Self-Talk:

  • Sustain self-confidence during challenging moments through realistic and positive self-talk.

  • Employ self-talk in a supportive and encouraging manner, as they would with their closest friend.

  • Use self-talk to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors during competition.

Harnessing the Power of Mental Imagery:

  • Prepare for competition by vividly imagining successful performances.

  • Create detailed, specific, and realistic mental images.

  • Utilize mental imagery during competition to enhance preparedness and recover from errors or poor performances.

Managing Anxiety Effectively:

  • Acknowledge anxiety as a natural part of sports.

  • Understand that moderate levels of anxiety can enhance performance.

  • Employ techniques to reduce excessive anxiety without compromising intensity.

Controlling and Managing Emotions Skilfully:

  • Embrace strong emotions, such as excitement, anger, and disappointment, as integral parts of the sporting experience.

  • Utilize these emotions constructively to enhance performance rather than hinder it.

  • How fast can you go back to being in the present moment

  • Awareness that your mind is a traveller - it goes where it wants, the skill is to bring it back to thoughts that help you.

Sustaining Concentration and knowing where your focus goes:

  • Identify critical points of focus during games or specific sport situations.

  • Cultivate the ability to maintain concentration and resist distractions from both the external environment and internal thoughts.

  • Reestablish focus promptly when concentration is momentarily lost during competition.

  • Embrace a "here-and-now" mindset, disregarding past or future events.

Application to Non-Sport Performance Situations:

The nine mental skills crucial for athletic success are equally valuable in various non-sport performance situations. These skills enable individuals to excel in endeavors that share similar characteristics, including scheduled or anticipated events, defined beginnings and endings, known circumstances, predetermined rules, evaluated results, uncertainty, personal importance, goal orientation, and the influence of skillful behavior.

Examples of Non-Sport Performance Situations:

  • Important job interviews

  • Performing as a soloist with a symphony orchestra

  • Auditioning for a role in a drama production

  • Delivering a class presentation

  • Taking a driver's examination

  • Addressing the PTA

  • Testifying in court

  • Undertaking a medical/law exam

  • Performing complex surgical procedures

  • Piloting an aircraft during landing

  • Entering a burning building as a firefighter

  • Participating in military or police operations

  • Engaging in rock climbing or activity with heights

By mastering these nine mental skills, individuals can enhance their performance and achieve success not only in sports but also in a wide range of non-sport endeavors. At Athlete IQ , we believe in the transformative power of these skills and their potential to enrich lives beyond the realm of athletics.


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