Posted by Tyler Bradstreet
Last week I wrote about the construct mental toughness, which is defined as
“having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to: generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands that sport places on a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure” (Connaughton & Hanton, 2009).
After explaining what it is, I introduced a 7-step model in order to develop mental toughness. To jog everyone’s memory, the 7-step model is:
1.) Find the right attitude and state of mind
2.) Program your mind for success ahead of time
3.) Find an appropriate routine
4.) Poise and composure
5.) Take control of negative self-talk
6.) Look at failure as a stepping stone for future achievement
7.) Be a difference maker; step up and have a peak performance when it matters most
Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking down this model in order to provide a better understanding of the mental skills necessary for training yourself to be “mentally tough.”
Therefore, today we will be going over…
Step 1: Find the right attitude and state of mind.
In order to find the right attitude and state of mind, we must look at our core confidence.
WHAT IS YOUR CORE CONFIDENCE ALL ABOUT?
We can gain confidence from two different sources: external and internal
External confidence is the easiest to recognize and what most people are familiar with. Examples of external confidence would be sinking the big shot, scoring a much-needed goal, making the key defensive stop, great praise from the coaching staff, etc. However, external confidence can have negative consequences. We do not have complete control over external events, and when confidence is only viewed externally, a struggle is eminent.
The key is to focus on what you can control. Control the “controllables.” If it is out of your control, and you’ve done everything you could have….there is no reason to dwell on it.
For example, in baseball, there are a lot of things outside of your control. As a hitter, you can go up to the plate, have a great at bat, work the count, and hit a line drive shot into the outfield; however, if it happens to be right at an outfielder and he catches it…you’re out. In the box score, you are 0 – 1….The same stat that someone who strikes out would receive. But, instead of focusing on the negative….reflect back on what happened and how you handled what was in your control. You didn’t swing at bad pitches and you hit the ball (that you had no control over where it was located in relation to the plate) real hard into the left-field gap…Nothing more can be asked of you.
It takes practice, and courage, in order to leave it all out on the field and truly believe you played with heart, determination, full focus, and that you were completely prepared to perform.
So, instead of riding a roller-coaster of emotions and only valuing yourself based upon positive or negative outcomes, try to focus on internal confidence, or, your core confidence.
Core confidence is the disposition to experience yourself as competent in conquering challenges and obstacles and believing that ultimately you deserve what you desire.
Core confidence is developed via two sources; mastery of skills and quality thoughts.
Developing a mastery of skills hits upon the idea of focusing on what you can control. Purposefully practicing in order to master the skills needed in your respective sport can provide great confidence. If you are confident in your skills, even when you don’t see the expected outcome, you fully believe you will have success on your next attempt. This is how that unshakable belief in your abilities is developed.
Quality thinking is a skill. It must be nurtured; this is something a lot of people take for granted. Quality thoughts will help you more consistently produce the type of outcomes you wish to see. A great way to think about quality thinking is –
Our Thoughts affect our Emotions, which affect our Actions.
(T.E.A. – for those who like acronyms)
THOUGHTS —> EMOTIONS —> ACTIONS
If we can re-frame a thought in a more positive light, our emotions will have a more positive feel, and thus, this will create an environment that provides a greater probability for success.
Alright, I know I just threw a lot at you, so let’s recap…
1.) Bring a positive attitude regarding your own abilities to the table
2.) Don’t base your self-confidence only on external events.
3.) Control what you can control.
4.) Develop a strong core confidence through mastery of skill and quality thoughts
5.) Our thoughts affect our emotions which affect our actions.
Focusing on your skills, being confident that you have prepared in a purposeful manner that greatly increases your probability of success, and being proud of your performance regardless of the outcome will help create a positive attitude and state of mind needed to build a strong foundation for being mentally tough.