Mentality of Success


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Rachel Van Leeuwen, Opinion Editor

Any athlete will tell you that playing a sport requires “blood, sweat, and tears.” Athletes around the world, as well as Bingham athletes, train every day to perfect their sport. But when the time to perform arrives, athletes face a different challenge: mental focus.

Athletes need to be mentally tough to combat the pressure that comes from performing. The Oxford Dictionary defines stress as, “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” If you watched the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, you’ve imagined what it might be like minutes before you take the slopes. The Olympic athlete has been preparing for this moment for years; those minutes definitely qualify as a demanding circumstance.

Whether or not you’re an Olympic athlete, we’ve all felt what is described as the “butterflies” or the “jitters” before a performance, test, or game.  If you went to watch the 6A State Football Championship, you probably wondered what your peers were feeling in the locker room before the game and on the field during the game. We know that the Bingham football team’s hard work paid off this season. But how did they overcome that pre-game stress? How does every athlete overcome the pressure involved with performing?

Dr. Doug Gardner, the founder of ThinkSport Consulting Services, said, “My work with athletes is guided by one simple principle: For every physical and fundamental act in sport, there is an equally important and equally-related mental component which must be addressed.” Not only do athletes train physically to play their sport, they train mentally as well. Dr. Jack J. Lesyk from the Ohio Center for Sport Psychology says there are nine mental skills aspiring successful athletes should develop. The nine mental skills fall into three different categories: basic skills, preparatory skills, and performance skills. For example, Lesyk includes self-talk, mental imagery, concentration, and managing anxiety and emotion as some of these mental skills athletes should develop. Whether you play at an Olympic, professional, varsity, or beginning level, these nine skills will help you cope with the pressure that comes from performing.

When playing sports or performing in any demanding situation, you need to be mentally tough to achieve your goals. Keep up the hard work and continue to develop your physical skills, but don’t underestimate the power of mental toughness. It could be the deciding factor of whether or not you succeed at your next game.