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  • Writer's pictureJudy Favor

Mental Toughness Doesn't Happen Automatically

“You’ve got to focus!”

“Be confident!”

“Everybody be thinking!”

Drop by any youth sporting event and these are just a few of the phrases you’ll hear shouted from coaches and parents.

In over 25 years working with competitive athletes, I’ve learned that most athletes understand they need to focus, maintain confidence, and think ahead to succeed. However, they often don’t know how. In short, they don’t know how to keep their head and emotions working for them, rather than against them.

Coaches spend hours and hours refining physical skills and rehearsing different plays, and parents spend thousands of dollars investing in private coaches and sending their kids to sport camps and clinics. The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how good your swing is or how well you throw or shoot the ball in practice. If you can’t control your head and emotions during competition, performance will suffer.

Major league baseball has finally figured out how important mental skills. According to USA Today, 27 major league teams now have mental skills coaches in their organizations. Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who obviously knows a thing or two about what it takes to win, explained what mental skills coaches do, “It’s no different than your hitting coach, your pitching coach, your infield coach. A mental skills coach is going to help you think better, think more clearly in the moment, and control your emotions.’’ (USA Today, 2018)

Unfortunately, mental skills don't develop naturally. Kids don’t turn 17 or 18 and magically become mentally tough. Athletes have to learn how to control their mind and emotions and channel energy in positive directions to maximize athletic performance. And they have to practice mental skills, just like they practice physical skills.

In Mental Toughness Mondays, helps athletes learn and practice critical mental toughness skills needed for peak performance. These month-long summer programs provide opportunities for athletes to reflect on their mental skills over the prior week of competition, learn and practice new skills each week, and develop new mental strategies for the next weekend of competition. Consecutive sessions also provide an opportunity to work with athletes individually and hold them accountable for practicing newly acquired mental skills in between sessions.

Isn’t it about time to commit some time to the mental side of your sport?

Check out the Mental Toughness Monday summer programs below and register for a June or July session today.

· Mental Toughness for Pitchers

· Mental Toughness for Hitters

· Pillars of Mental Toughness


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