The Mental Side of Sports Performance Training

When did you last work on the mental side of your sports performance training, if ever?

Did you know?
Mental training is just as important as physical training! Top athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods,  Mary Lou Retton, among many others, have used mental training techniques to help improve their sports performance.

How does mental sports performance training work?
Once an athlete reaches a certain level of skill and experience, the mental aspect of their sport becomes very important, and it is what makes the difference across average, good, and great athletic performance.  Mental obstacles may be caused by a combination of factors. Some of these are pain, injury, poor performance, multiple game losses, the yips, issues with team members or coaches. These obstacles often show up as anxiety, low confidence, inability to get into the flow state, low motivation, and other unhelpful mental states that lead an athlete down a negative path, ultimately impacting their sports performance.  To counteract these obstacles, or to prevent them in the first place, there are many tools and methods available to the athlete. Some of these include:

Sport Psychology
Trainers and coaches focus on the athlete’s physical skills and abilities. Sport psychology practitioners focus on the athlete’s mind, which helps the athlete enhance their performance, overcome obstacles, cope with the pressures of competition, achieve their full potential, and reach their goals.  With sport psychology, some of the techniques used include visualization, positive self-talk, relaxation, goal setting and emotional regulation.

Sports Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a type of mental training. Sports hypnosis refers to the use of hypnosis specifically for enhancing athletic performance. Sports hypnosis is used by coaches and psychologists, and elite and professional athletes.  Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Rod Carew all used hypnosis for their sports.  Phil Jackson used it with the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers while coaching these championship teams.

An athlete’s mental state during training and competition impacts their performance. This is one important area where hypnosis can help, because it helps the athlete remain calm under pressure, and maintain a relaxed mental state (i.e. the Flow State).  And similar to sport psychology, hypnosis  can help athletes enhance performance, overcome mental obstacles, cope with pressure, and reach their goals. And like sport psychology, sports hypnosis may incorporate visualization, positive self-talk, relaxation, goal setting, positive self-talk and emotional regulation. Athletes are sometimes taught self-hypnosis so they can use it on their own whenever they need to.

Mental Imagery
Mental imagery refers to using all of the senses – seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting and smelling – to imagine a real life scenario in the mind.  Mental imagery can help an athlete rehearse athletic performance under specific situations prior to it actually occurring.This can help the athlete overcome and problem solve situations found to be challenging in real life. It allows them to live out the real life scenario in a way that they want to in advance of it actually happening. Mental imagery may be used in combination with sports hypnosis.

It has been found that if athletes practice meditation for only a few minutes per day, they may be better prepared to manage the physical and mental demands of their sport.  Some of the many benefits of a regular meditation practice for the athlete include stress reduction, improved sleep, and increased endurance. Sport psychologists and sports hypnosis practitioners sometimes incorporate meditation into their work with athlete clients.

How can improving mental skills help an athlete?
Athletes benefit from mental training to enhance their sports performance in that it helps them:

Choose and maintain a positive attitude
Be highly self-motivated
Set attainable goals
Deal effectively with other people
Incorporate positive self-talk into their regime
Use mental imagery to enhance their performance
Effectively manage anxiety
Manage their emotions
Improve concentration
Stay focused

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No matter where you are in your athletic journey, there are many tools available for improving the mental side of your sports performance.

Want to learn more? To find out more about methods that may work for you, contact us for a free consultation.

There is no better time than NOW!

Your Personal Performance Coach,


Lynne Couchara | Elite Performance Coaching