Sports Psychology: Make yourself the best athlete you can be

You spend hours in the pool, on the bike, in your trainers and in the gym to get yourself in the best physical fitness possible. You are stronger and in better fitness than you ever have been but is your performance reflecting that? Endless articles written about some of the best triathletes on the triathlon scene talk about the importance of having that mental cutting edge attitude. Are they born with this or, is it more a case of how they have been able to harness the best out of themselves psychologically to be mentally tough when it really counts? Either way, no athlete or individual can ever take the importance of psychological strength and drive for granted. It is not always there and sometimes we may need help to find it again or to use it to our advantage. So whilst we all plough endless amounts of money into that new bike component or disc wheel to make us go that little bit faster, why do we neglect the one thing that could really make us go faster- mental mind set?

‘you might be the best cyclist out there but someone can beat you on the bike because they have more belief in themselves and when the going gets tough, they will have an advantage over the ‘best’ cyclist who is psychological weak’ 
It is very important to develop psychological strategies and skills which help us to become better athletes and possibly even become a better version of ourselves. There are many ways that you can work to build yourself psychologically and your coach can also help you to do this. Some things are very simple and can be done on your own such as developing a mantra ‘I am running strong and fast’ that you use in training to push yourself through the pain. You might be a learner who prefers a written reminder- use sticky notes and stick them to your mirror or, write on your water bottle to remind yourself of the areas you need to build confidence in. For others of us, our own prompts may not be enough or maybe we want to find out more about how to get the most out of ourselves; time to find someone else to help us see through the fog in front of our faces and make us realise our full potential. 

Throw away any thoughts that sports psychology is a taboo word, if you had a cold then you would look for ways to make you better, this is no different. I imagine at this point a fair few of you are thinking seeking a professional is a ridiculous thing to do, you might be an Ironman athlete or an Ultra-marathon runner and after doing one of the toughest endurance sports on the planet why would you possibly need a sports psychologist? Well, none of us would look at some of the best athletes in our sport with a gold medal hanging around their neck and tell them that they were weak for practicing psychological routines and using psychologist, in fact that is half the reason they have the medal in the first place! So think again when you consider yourself as an athlete, getting that help could be a step in the right direction to really making yourself the best athlete you can be.

                    'Mind is everything. Muscle- pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind'
                                                                                                          -Paavo Nurmi (1897-1973) Olympic Legend


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