I firmly believe that the difference between success and failure is in your head. Take a good look at the best athletes in the world. What is one key element they all share? Mental toughness, confidence and a never quit attitude are just a few. Notice I did not say pure talent. Of course talent plays a major role but that does not mean we can not succeed beyond.
I often hear questions like “You’re not a professional athlete so why do you often feel the need to train like one?” or even better “Why do you take you training so seriously if you aren’t even training for anything?”
For me that is an easy answer. I hate to fail! I want to be the best so I train that way. When I train hard and push my body to the limit it gives me a satisfaction I can’t describe. It also helps me train mentally to push harder and outlast the other guy. With each training success I gain the confidence to push farther. For me being mentally tougher than the next guy means more than anything.
So how do you train for mental toughness? I am sure there are many answers out there, but these are just a few of my ways. With each training session I work on building confidence, skill, resiliency, composure, and motivation.
Confidence: Without confidence we are weak! This is something that can build with time, so start slow. Lets take for example you want to hit 100 snatches in 5 minutes. Break it down! Build your confidence by consistently hitting 20 + reps in a minutes times. As you get stronger add more time to the clock or decrease your rest. Your confidence comes by knowing you have hit the numbers in previous training sessions.
Skill: This should be a given. If you want to excel at something you need to actually practice it. Each training session should be focusing on improving the skill.
Resiliency: This might be something everybody needs to look at. I used to live by old saying “Your only as good as your last race”. The problem with that is it lead to a lack of confidence. If I had a bad race or lost to an opponent it would plant a seed in my head. This is a bad thing. Learning to bounce back from a poor performance was key to my success. Everybody has a bad day. It is what you learn from that bad day that separates you from the rest. Learn to put the past event behind you, learn from your mistakes and use that to excel the next time.
Composure: For me this was learning how to stay calm under pressure. This is learning to control your emotions and be confident in your skills. I have always felt the best way to find your true composure is during competition. Stay calm and you will automatically fall back to you training.
Motivation: Everybody needs to find what motivates them. My motivation is to be able to work harder and longer than the next guy. Your motivation may be different. Find that inner drive and make it work for you, because if you aren’t motivated to work….you won’t!
I hope for some of you this helps. These are just a few things I have learned over the years. In the end, for me, mental toughness is all about not quitting and not giving up. Please understand I am not telling you to push each training session to the limit. I am referring to setting a goal and following through. This goal may be a short term (as in completing the 5 minute snatch test) or long term (as in completing 10,000 swings next month.) Both require a kind of mental toughness that can only come with hard work. Good luck in your journeys!!