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What is Mental Toughness and How Do You Develop It?

Craig Sigl, The Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth Athletes

The thing about the game at this level [MLB] is that there is very little difference in physical skills between players; the real difference between them is upstairs. It is what is 'in your head' that makes the difference. ~ Cletis "Clete" Boyer

Definition: Mental toughness gives you mental edge so you can:

  • Be more consistent than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, resilient, and in control especially under pressure.
  • Deal with the many demands of competition, training and lifestyle so you can perform BETTER than your COMPETITION.

There are some key characteristics associated with mentally tough elite athletes that can be developed:

  • Self-Belief: Having an unwavering faith in your ability to accomplish your competition goals
  • Motivation: Having an unquenchable internal motivation and desire to succeed - you've got to really want it!
  • Bouncing back from any mistake or choke: You need to come back with increased resolve to be successful.
  • Focus: Ability to remain focused regardless of the distractions from competitors, fans or even your own teammates.
  • Overcoming internal distractions, like worry, negative mind chatter and doubt.
  • Composure Under Pressure: Able to remain under control even during unforeseen events or distractions and thriving by embracing the pressure and being in the moment.
  • Acceptance: Anxiety and fear are inevitable in competition and knowing you can handle it.
Being strong mentally we have to see as a skill. It's huge… We talk a lot about the technical things on the ice, but definitely your attitude and mental toughness are a huge factor. ~ Antoine Vermette

The key to mental toughness is learning how to train your mind to think confidently so you can easily overcome disappointment, frustration and negativity you may experience from setbacks and mistakes. You must learn how to use positive self-talk, which means saying what you want to occur and not allowing chokes to undermine your confidence or focus.

What makes you really come together under pressure is determination and focus and toughness. ~ Debi Thomas

How To Develop Mental Toughness

It starts with having the right attitude and state of mind and the confidence to carry it out. Your confidence comes in knowing you are mentally ready and having an unwavering belief in your abilities to achieve your goals.

You must have the unstoppable courage to give it your all out on the athletic field, play with heart, resolve, and complete focus. You do this by focusing on those things you want to have happen, rather than worrying about the things you're afraid might go wrong!

You need to code your mind for victory beforehand with positive self talk. Share your goals and expectations of yourself with your family, friends, teammates and your coach. Let them know what you are going to do to be successful. Use sentences beginning with "I will, I can, I am going to..."on a regular basis.

Come u with a personal routine you can use that helps get you into a positive mental- emotional state of mind. Create a routine for practice, pre-game, and competition. For instance, in practice, as you walk through the gate, commit to giving it everything you have the entire time - this includes making a pledge to listen, learn, carry out skills/drills with precision and full focus.

For your pre-game competition routine develop a systematic practice for creating the correct environment to get you ready. Maybe it is a good energy fueling meal or wearing your favorite socks.

During Competition, vow to being mentally tough and a great competitor throughout the entire game by maintaining poise and composure no matter what. You do this by learning how to let go of mistakes quickly even if things do not go the way you want.

You see the key to mental training is learning about how to compensate, adjust and trust! You don't allow frustration or setbacks to undermine your confidence/focus.

You do this by taking control of any Negative Self-Talk and reframing any "stinking thinking" into what you will do differently next time. Start by being aware of the situations that cause you to get frustrated, rushed, intimidated and lose focus. Reframe the negativity into positive, mentally tough self-suggestions. For example, change "I'll never make this shot" to " I can see an opening and I'm going for it!"

What you learn when you develop mental toughness is that failure can be a stepping stone for future success. If you just focus on the process of competing well, I promise winning will take care of itself.

In our Mental Toughness Training at the Mental Toughness Academy, we teach you how to be a difference maker, to step up and be able to achieve peak performances when it matters the most.

That's just the beginning of learning of mental toughness. If you want that competitive advantage for your young athlete, go to: Perform Under Pressure for free video training to turbo-charge confidence, build resiliency and learn life skills through participation in sports.

So what things are likely to affect your confidence and self-belief? What will you do about it?

Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth Athletes is the creator of 6 mental game training programs for athletes sold in 28 countries. His newsletters go to over 18,000 athletes, parents and coaches worldwide.

He has been featured on NBC TV's "Evening Magazine" show, numerous radio shows and the Seattle P.I. newspaper for his work with youth athletes.

For more great tips and to receive free "The 10 Commandments For A Great Sports Parent" ebook and Free training for youth athletes to learn how to "Perform Under Pressure" Tap here to get them Free.

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