You don’t have to be a medal winner or record-breaker to enjoy success in sport. Whatever level you play or compete at, you can gain huge advantages around enjoying sport, setting goals and maintaining your fitness. However, one thing that all successful sports players and athletes have in common is the positive mental attitude. Being able to stay motivated. To push through on days when you don’t feel like it and come back from sports injury or set-backs is invaluable. In other words, if you want to be successful on the pitch, course, track or playing field, you should build up a positive mental attitude.
What is a Positive Mental Attitude And Why Do I Deed One?
We all experience emotions, both positive and negative. We all have times when we feel tired or discouraged. The trick is learning how to get up and perform as best as you can, despite your emotions. Discovering how to push boundaries in a healthy way and knowing when it’s time to rest and recuperate.
Negative emotions can make us feel tired and can affect our cognitive functionality, or how we think. A positive mental attitude helps us look further than our current state of mind and stop negative thoughts from getting in the way. Examples of when a positive mental attitude is key are not just limited to days when we are feeling a bit ‘off’.
As sports men and women, we need to learn how to handle disappointment if we don’t win or place as we would have liked to. When we don’t get that personal best, or are finding recovery from sports injury longer than we would wish. It’s during tough times like these that the right attitude is most important – and hardest to maintain. You can read more about the importance of positive mental attitude in sport on BBC Bitesize.
How Can I Develop a Positive Mental Attitude?
There are a number of areas that you should aim to focus on to help develop a healthy positive mental attitude. These include:
- Self-motivation (remember why you are working towards your goal)
- Healthy goal setting (pursue excellence, not perfection)
- Respect your sport and your coaches (listen to the voice of experience)
- Positive self-talking (treat yourself as you would a cherished friend)
- Positive mental imagery (positive visualisation can work wonders)
- Anxiety management (seek help for anxiety if you feel you cannot cope alone)
- Accept support (take strength from those who love you and train with you)
- Focus and concentration (keep a clear head and don’t get distracted)
- Self-care (nutrition, sleep, fitness checks etc. are crucial for sporting success)
- Relaxation techniques (‘all work and no play…’)
- Value inner rewards (find as much joy in your personal achievements as any trophies or medals you may or may not pick up along the way)
- Become a role model (if you can inspire others, this will help your own positive mental attitude to thrive)
How Does It Work?
Science has shown a strong physiological link between our minds and our bodies. How we think can affect our physical reactions, especially in times of increased pressure, such as during a sports match, training session or competition. So, if we can approach a physical challenge with a positive mental attitude, this will help it seem less scary and more achievable. This is because our minds are telling us that it is possible to do, rather than filling us with self-doubt that can affect or even disable our responses at its very worst. If we lack self-confidence, this can also lead to errors occurring that could result in a sports injury.
We can work at overriding thoughts of self-doubt by using positive mental attitude techniques like visualisation and positive self-talking. Imagining ourselves succeeding and motivating ourselves with pep talks and relaxation. This not only helps us to get in the right frame of mind, it also offers other benefits too.
For example, if we feel positive, our body language will reflect that. This tells our opponents that we are ready for the challenge and are not likely to concede defeat without a fight. This can empower those around us too, for instance our fellow team mates and supporters. It can turn us into a positive role model and ambassador for our sport amongst those we know. This is important when we suffer a sports injury too. If we can approach recovery and rehabilitation with the right attitude, hard though it may be at times, we can demonstrate that set-backs like these need not mean the end of the line.