Mental strength is a concept that may sound like something hackneyed but that is clearly the one that determines the performance and success of an athlete. Only the best have mastered this art (or this science) and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is one example. Whoever swims faster, who jumps higher or who scores the most points does not win (only). Who, in addition, surpasses their rivals in a high capacity that in addition to being valuable is ‘trainable’ wins. Because yes, mental toughness is also trained and in this article I will explain how.
What is mental toughness in sport?
Mental toughness in sport is the ability to observe and manage your thoughts, emotions and actions, to deliver your best and play your best game, in any situation, regardless of the outcome. Or what is the same, strength does not help you to get there faster -than also-, but to overcome greater obstacles , challenges and difficulties.
It is what distinguished athletes of the stature of Vladimir Salnikov, a legend of Russian swimming to whom the history of the sport owes great milestones such as his best mark in 1,500 meters, achieved in 1982, a time of 14: 37.06. As his teammates continued to swim, he was already integrated into the crowd, waiting to see who would come second. It was not the first time that he managed to swim under 15 minutes, a milestone that everyone was in charge of reminding him. “It was a huge pressure. Everyone expected it and repeated it to me over and over again. I knew I could do it ” , explained the swimmer.
But not everything came to Salnikov’s face. He won at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but without the USA among his rivals, the athlete felt his gold as an uncompleted or decaffeinated feat . It did not help either that in Los Angeles 1984 his country decided not to come as a response to what it had experienced in Moscow four years earlier. Circumstances and time worked against him. He lost the confidence of his people, considering it more like a past glory than a spearhead with the possibility of continuing to win in subsequent Olympic events.
His mental strength, however, worked the miracle. It was she who helped him overcome the discredit and mistrust, the noise. His mental strength determined him to victory in Seoul 1988 where he won his second Olympic gold as the oldest Olympic champion in more than half a century. The case of Salnikov shows to what extent it can be crucial for an athlete to train mental strength as part of their routines.
We know that, after persisting and conspiring for victory, he succeeded, but how did he do it? How did he manage to train his mental fortitude to resurface like a phoenix from the ashes? Experience tells me that if you manage to develop your mental strength there will be no demanding training for you , nor difficult competitions. Here we share some keys to train your mental strength.
Decalogue of mental strength: 10 tips to train it
1. Don’t think about brands and focus on goals
2. Trade suffering for motivation
3. Turn fear into courage and bravery
4. Give mistakes the value they deserve : learning from them is key to improving
5. Focus on your resilience to recover quickly and focus on the present
6. Visualize each step in your head as if you could live the process
7. Find a way to isolate yourself from noise and extra sports pressure
8. Maintain a positive internal dialogue, avoid whipping and flogging
9. Value everything you have achieved
10. Stay close to yours The athlete is not only nourished by mental strength.
Confidence is another instrument that infuses power to those who know how to exercise it.