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Are you mentally tough enough? Do you want to get an edge over your opponents? Do you know how to step up in pressure situations and perform your best? Follow these 5 tips to build your mental toughness.

Mental toughness is the ability to consistently perform at your best in any situation. No matter what your skill level or talent, any athlete can learn to be mentally tough. Any athlete can use mental toughness to maximize their potential and get an advantage over their competitors.

Follow the 5 tips below to get started:

1. Maintain Confidence: You need to keep belief that you can perform well in difficult situations. Keep your mind full of past successes and reasons why you can play well in any situation. You will need to remind yourself of these when performing, particularly if you are not playing well or when you need to show your best under pressure.

It is important to understand how to use positive and helpful thinking to benefit your confidence and your performance. You don’t always have to be positive but you do need to use helpful thoughts that keep you focused on the right stuff. For example, you may have key technical or tactical thoughts that focus your mind on how to play well and your game plan.

Positive thoughts and ways to pump yourself up also need to be part of your game plan. Mentally tough athletes are able to keep their confidence stable and always believe they can be successful. This allows them to perform their best in any situation and bounce back quickly from mistakes.

2. Perform under pressure: To be mentally tough you need to embrace the pressure. Be excited about the challenge of playing your best under tough conditions. You need to be able to keep a helpful mindset on performance. This means not focusing on the importance of the moment, expectations or disappointing people.

You need to focus on how to play well and what normally works for you. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do something extra special. Mentally tough athletes know that during pressure situations they just need to keep their mind on performing how they normally do. They can stay composed and produce in the big moments.

3. Manage Your Emotions: You need to successfully deal with any emotion. Managing your emotions means using difficult emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear and sadness to help your performance and not hurt it. To be mentally tough it is important to maintain productive emotions.

By controlling your mind and maximizing your emotions you will be able to stay calm and composed. This is important as you need to be able to stay focused on playing well and not waste energy on unhelpful emotions. These will just distract you and you are likely to make more mistakes during these times.

Mentally tough athletes are able to deal with disappointment and failure quicker than their opponents. Managing their emotions helps them to control their behavior and push forward to achieving their goals.

4. Be Resilient: Bounce back from mistakes and overcome obstacles quickly. This is important particularly in key situations such as when you’re behind, trying to close out a match or playing in a final. Spend as less time as possible dwelling on the mistakes, bad events or the past. Don’t worry about things you can’t change. Every moment you are frustrated about a mistake is time wasted. You have to keep yourself in a place that is calm and composed.

Mentally tough athletes are resilient and persistent. Persistence is keeping your mind on your goals when things are not going as planned. You need to stay motivated to produce your best even if you don’t feel like it or if things are against you. You have to know what is driving you so that in the toughest times you will be able to pull through and still show your best.

5. Overcome Adversity: Accept that there will be adversity and be prepared for things not going your way. Develop plans to overcome difficult situations. It is important to identify events that you struggle with when competing for example this could be bad calls, making multiple mistakes or a frustrating opponent.

Once you know what these are, decide on the thoughts and behaviors you are going to commit to when these situations happen during competition. When things don’t go well for you or you don’t start playing well you need to be able to bounce back and not give up. Mentally tough athletes ignore distractions and stay focused on game-related information. Let go of the negativity and focus on what you need to do to perform well.

The mentally tough athletes are the ones who get the ball when big plays need to be made, the one the team looks to lead them in tough situations, the ones who play consistently at their best in any situation no matter what is happening around them. If you want to be THAT person start working on your mental toughness now. Use the tips in this post to get an edge over your competitors. Look out for Mondays post that will include 5 exercises you can do to improve mental toughness.

If you want help to improve your mental toughness, Contact Me here to schedule a mental training session.

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.

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