Top Performance Requires Mental Training, Too

Ask any coach what distinguishes a good athlete from a great one and they’ll tell you that great athletes are both physically and mentally trained.

In fact, mental training or the mind games we play with ourselves is one of the most overlooked aspects of a well-rounded training program.

We give the topic a lot of lip service but rarely do we actively engage in training to make us mentally stronger.

We could debate physical preparedness vs mental readiness for hours.

I believe that since we associate the physicality we are seeing when watching a sports event, we learn to train the body and ignore the mind.

I went to university on a track and field scholarship and never once did a coach or mentor mention the value of being mentally prepared.

However, learning to cognitively look at physical performance, just as you practice interval sets or tennis volley’s, will enhance your overall performance and better prepare you for whatever obstacles or challenges you may face.


Awareness is our ability/willingness to process information as it pertains to performance.

For example, fatigue is often over-looked or ignored but can make or break an athlete.

Being aware, knowing when and why we become fatigued and taking proactive steps to prevent it demonstrates how our awareness can mean the difference between sub-optimal and peak performance.


Confidence in sport is achieved though success.

Often we feel a greater sense of self-worth when we are confident and a diminished sense of ability when we aren’t.

However, you don’t have to wait for one great race to feel confident about your abilities. Every good workout is a success, as are each period of consistent training cycles and every lesson you learn along the way.

Recognize your successes.

Athletes who are most confident aren’t those who win every time but rather those who learn to mentally recognize the success they experience each day.


Optimism plays a significant role in the success of all our endeavors, especially in sports.

People who are optimistic learn to expect positive outcomes regardless of the situation.

Optimistic athletes see setbacks such as injuries as bad luck and move forward.

Adopting an optimistic attitude means catching one’s self in times of self-doubt and discouragement, recognizing them for what they are and letting go.


Determination stems directly from our mental fortitude to try as hard as we can from start to finish.

We experience determination on different levels every day.

In sport, if we can channel that determination into our goal setting and athletic expectations, we learn to heighten the meaningfulness of each training session.


Enjoying yourself in sport is more important than any race place finish could be … and it is the surest way to perform well.

When you are happy, you perform well and when you perform well, you are happy.

I have always held the position, if it’s not fun, then, why do it?

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