How many talented young athletes do you know that continually fall short of their potential?
The difference-maker, the thing that can push a player over the top, is a strong mental game. Just like your physical game, your mental game can be improved with training and practice.
The more mental tools you have in your toolbox the better prepared you are for success. In fact, your mental tools are what allow you to utilize your talent to its fullest potential.
Take, for example, Elina Svitolina who is only 22 years old and steadily climbing the WTA rankings. Svitolinawon her biggest match of her career at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, her second title of the year capping off a 12-match winning streak. With the victory, Svitolina broke into the Top 10.
Svitolina has a great combination of mental skills that have propelled her game to the next level:
- Process-orientation (in the moment thinking)
First, Svitolina has trained herself to block out distractions and focus on her game.
SVITOLINA: “No, I try just to focus on my game when I go on court, and everything I just leave behind. For me it’s very important to be mentally there – don’t think, don’t let bad thoughts do bad things with my game.”
Svitolina is patient and focuses on the process, the things that are right in front of her that she needs to do to move her game forward.
SVITOLINA: “I always try to take one step at a time. It’s very important for me to not rush things, and to stay very positive with myself.”
Svitolina maintains her confidence by celebrating small achievements instead of dwelling on mistakes and losses.
SVITOLINA: “That’s what I love about tennis. There are always these small achievements that you have and it always drives you to go for more and work harder.”
Finally, Svitolina also understands that there will be off days but realizes it is important to keep fighting. Svitolina believes persistence is a critical habit that helps her rebound after a bad shot or poor set.
SVITOLINA: “I was just trying to play my best and always try to fight, even when it’s not working well or it’s a bad day, try to fight over and over again.”
What mental tools are in your toolbox?
What mental skills will help raise your game and improve your consistency? Remember, talent alone will not get you where you want to go, so make the commitment to grow your game by improving your mental game.
Tardio Tips: Sharpening your Mental Tools
Create a mental skills balance sheet. A balance sheet is a statement of your mental assets and mental areas that need improvement.
By identifying your strengths, you will be able to maintain a certain degree of confidence by not solely focusing on weaker areas of your game.
Next, what areas need improvement in order to accomplish your goals?
Consider areas such as:
- managing emotions
- thinking positive
- setting goals
- dealing with pressure
- overcoming mistakes
Look to build your game by further developing your mental tools!
Related Article: To Push or Not to Push? The Right Call for Sports Parents
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