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Mental Training for Athletes: The Importance of Mindset

Mental Training for Athletes: The Importance of Mindset

I have a confession to make.

I didn’t watch any of the U.S. women’s soccer games.

I heard talk and snippets from headlines and I knew they were doing well and I heard when they won the finals.

The morning after they won, I watched the team being interviewed on Good Morning America. They are a talented group of women who have worked very hard, but one comment stuck out to me as significant, especially as a Mindset Coach and therapist.

One of the hosts of Good Morning America, Michael Strahan, asked the goalie about a penalty kick she defended. He asked her what was going through her mind in that moment right before the kick. She thought about it for a second and said actually nothing was going through her mind. She said she was just calm and because she connects with the energy of her teammates, she could feel they were calm too.

My immediate thought was wow, that’s a big part of why they’re so successful.

Of course they’ve done countless hours of physical training as well, but to achieve calm in the face of that type of pressure told me they’ve done mental training as well. This moment solidified for me my desire to work with athletes on their mindset. It truly is such a significant aspect to success as an athlete.

Our bodies follow our minds so if your mind can be calm, especially during a high pressure situation like a penalty kick in the World Cup, your body is calm and and can perform fluidly. Mental training allows the body to respond in the way all the hours of physical training have prepared it for. If her mind had been a frantic, chaotic storm her body, it’s movements and split second reflexes would have been impacted.

While I never played sports at a high level, I was a high school athlete.

I’ve always remembered one specific softball game in high school. It was an away game and for some reason on the bus ride, my best friend Jenny (maybe she was bored) massaged my pitching arm. I love massages! I felt so calm and relaxed when we got to the field. That game was hands down the best game I ever pitched in four years of high school.

I remember being so amazed at what a difference being physically (and therefore mentally) relaxed had on my performance as a pitcher. Now, many years later and lots of experience as a therapist and now mindset coach, it makes perfect sense to me.

The mind and body are intricately connected and constantly affecting each other, positively and negatively, pending what we are feeling and/or doing. Massage is not the only way an athlete can relax to perform better. Meditation, visualization, hypnosis and many other techniques can help improve performance significantly.

We are a society that focuses a lot on our physical bodies with diet, exercise and appearance.

But how much time and energy do you put into your mental training? Our bodies follow our minds, so if the mind goes to a negative place that will affect the body’s response and performance.

If you are an athlete of any level and want to improve your mindset and therefore your performance, contact me for a consultation

Kathy Most
Therapist in Westfield, NJ
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