WHAT IS A MENTAL GAME? AN INTRO TO WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH A WINNING MINDSET


Are you looking for information on what a mental game is and what mental coaches actually do? Want to know how you can use your mental game to get an advantage over your competitors? This post explains what a mental game is and exactly what it looks like to have a strong mental game.

A mental game includes anything involving the mind. It involves mental skills, techniques, strategies and, plans for practice and performance. Athletes with the best mental games have a complete set of mental skills, strategies and plans that they can use to play their best in any situation.

It is sometimes easier to explain something by describing what it looks like when someone doesn’t have it. For example the mental errors athletes may make if they have a weak mental game. But this time I am going to do things differently and explain to you what a strong mental game looks like. I want you to focus on what you could have and what you could achieve if you had a complete mental game.

Athletes who have a complete mental game look like this:

  • They are able to maintain confidence regardless of how they or their team are performing

  • They are consistently able to mentally and physically prepare to play against any opponent and do not play “down” to their competitors level

  • They are able to bounce back quickly from mistakes and learn from them

  • They are able to stay focused on the present and play one point at a time

  • They are able to stay composed and perform under pressure for example closing out a match, playing in a final or big game or playing in front of important spectators such as scouts or college coaches

  • They are able to manage their emotions such as frustration, nerves and sadness and stay calm and composed

  • They are able to stay focused on game-related information and ignore distractions

  • They are able to motivate themselves to play their best no matter what the situation and to give their best effort every day in practice

  • They are able to trust their skills and avoid over-thinking when competing

  • They are able to stay focused on the process and not worry about the outcome or winning

  • They are able to perform in competition like they do in training

  • They are consistently able to get in the zone which leads to consistently performing at their best

  • They are able to overcome adversity and deal with unexpected or tough situations such as bad weather, performance slumps, making multiple mistakes, frustrating opponents, bad calls and, changes to line ups or game schedules

  • They are able to stay resilient even when tired or injured

  • They are able to overcome fear of failure, play aggressive and, stick with their game plan

  • They are able to control their mind and their thoughts and choose to use positive and helpful thinking

  • They are able to ignore what others are thinking and play for themselves

  • They are able to manage their expectations and avoid putting extra pressure on themselves

  • They have great self-awareness and recognize their mental strengths and weaknesses. They can identify when playing if they are holding themselves back with their mind and are able to make a change to their mindset

  • They are able to manage their personalities in order to perform their best including perfectionism

  • They are able to keep non-sport distractions and life issues from interfering with their performance

  • They are able to block out difficult parents and coaches and ignore other people’s expectations

So how do these athletes with a strong mental game do it? They have a range of mental tools, techniques, strategies and plans that allow them to use their mental skills to get an advantage over their opponents and consistently show their best.

Remember all of these skills can be learned. Yes some people are born with more mental strength than others but, everyone can improve and gain mental skills. If you would like to see where your mental game is lacking take my free Mental Skills Assessment here.

What do mental coaches do?

Mental coaches use mental training to improve all of the areas listed above. They achieve this by helping athletes to develop techniques and strategies to improve their mental strength. To make sure athletes’ performance improves they also develop mental game plans of how the techniques and strategies can be used in practice and competition.

Athletes of all ages and abilities can benefit from mental training. There are three main reasons I am asked to work with athletes:

  1. The athlete/team wants to either learn new skills or build on their existing mental skills so they can get to the next performance level. They are already mentally strong but want to continue to improve.

  2. The athlete/team is under-performing and they are ready physically but there is some mental barrier in the way.

  3. The athlete/team is young and needs to learn the basic mental skills so they can continue to progress and also be prepared for the future and more serious competitions.

If after reading this you would like to work on your mental game and enjoy all the benefits listed above, Contact Me Here to schedule your mental training sessions.

If you want to get more tips and exercises, sign up for my free newsletter here. You will receive my free e-book: Top Ten Mental Mistakes Athletes Make In Competition: What Every Athlete, Coach and Parent Need To Avoid To Improve Mental Toughness. Plus you get the strategies top athletes use to become mentally tough and get an edge over their opponents.

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Zoe Littlewood, M.A. -
Sport Psychology Consultant & Mental Skills Coach

Zoe specializes in working with individuals, teams, parents and coaches to produce performance enhancement, mental toughness and a winning mindset.