Many athletes neglect mental training. Some athletes may not know where to begin with a training regimen... Some athletes feel they don't have the time to undertake mental training... And some athletes believe mental training to be gimmicky.
Without getting into a long, drawn out debate regarding the legitimacy of mental training, I would like to propose four sound reasons why you should consider adding mental training into your training regimen:
REASON #1: Life Applications
Sport is a microcosm of the world at large. By learning mental skills as an athlete, you will be better prepared to deal with problematic areas outside of sport such as; school, work, family, relationships and personal development. That's right, mental skills are transferable and can be applied to a vast amount of situations throughout your life. Being confident in a competition can help you become more confident during a job interview. Managing anxiety before a big game can teach you how to settle your nerves before taking a final examination. Goal setting for the upcoming competitive season is skill you can apply to career development. Effectively communicating with a over-demanding coach can help you manage conflict when your college roommate refuses to clean up the half-eaten cheeseburgers from the prior week that were left on your dresser, talks behind your back to your friends down the hall, steals your favorite clothes that you mom bought you for Christmas and leaves the room smelling like the locker room towel bin after a 2-hour practice in 90 degree heat. This last example alone should be more than enough reason to start a mental training program.
REASON #2: Dealing with Adversity
Throughout your sporting career, there will be ups and downs. Some of those down times will be extremely trying, for example, being bench, dealing with a serious injury, getting cut from a team, missing the game-ending shot, making a big mistake during championships, falling short of a national cut, losing your spot on a relay, going through a slump, etc. Developing some degree of mental toughness is critical for you to navigate through those difficult times and bounce back stronger than ever.
REASON #3: Achieve More
Training is essential. You wouldn't skip practice for a month, then expect to perform at your peak during a major competition. You wouldn't neglect to strengthen your core, your agility or your balance if those aspects were critical for you to be firing on all cylinders when it matters most. The same is true of mental training. If you believe that mental factors affect your performance at all, then it is necessary to strengthen that component of your game so you are fully prepared to compete and take your game to the next level.
REASON #4: Why NOT?
What do you really have to lose? You have probably tried every new piece of training equipment that has come down the line... why not try a proven effective method for improving performance? Why NOT?