How? Through wellness.
Understanding who you are and what you want to achieve is the key to success. But what keeps that key in the ignition and the car in “drive” might be something you’ve never considered. The answer is wellness. While wellness is an all-encompassing term, let’s hone in on mental toughness.
In sports, some might notice their anger flares when they play, a visible sign of loss of mental control. Others have negative thoughts or expectations that can bring their level of play down. Here are four tips to stay focused on the golf course, tennis court, and even in the workplace.
Mindful meditation can be done anywhere: laying down, sitting in a chair, or walking around the block. It’s a process that teaches us to respond more effectively to negative situations that we face in a sport or in daily life. Through meditation, we don’t seek to change or correct negative mental experiences; instead, we learn to accept whatever is going on in our minds and refocus our attention on the task in hand. Taking this practice into the sports arena results in an athlete’s increased ability to function “in the zone” by sharpening concentration, accuracy, and precision.
Goals on Paper
When you were young, you were probably told to write your goals down and keep them where you could see them every day. The same is true for you today. Keep goals visible to stay motivated and to push yourself.
“Setting goals helps us grow and expand, pushing ourselves to transform in ways that we never imagined,” said Tony Robbins, a prominent figure in leadership psychology. Understanding your heartfelt desires, and affirming you can attain them, is a beneficial tool to staying positive and determined.
Diet and Exercise for the Mind
It’s also helpful to write down your unhealthy mental habits. As Amy Morin, best selling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do states, “Mental strength is a lot like physical strength. If you want to be physically strong, you need to go to the gym and lift weights. Mental strength is the same. If you want to be mentally strong, you need good habits like practicing gratitude. But you also have to give up bad habits,like destructive beliefs about yourself and others.”
Letting go of these inhibitors gives you control over your outlook and athletic potential.
Focusing on your mental game will help drown out mental noise. You have control over every shot placement, which club to use, and what strategy to follow. Once you break your concentration and become consumed with things that you can’t control, you reduce your chances of playing your best.
So, how can you start the round off on the right foot? Create a simple routine. Stretch, meditate, practice on the range, eat a healthy meal — whatever it is, find your routine and stick to it.
As psychologist Jim Taylor wrote for Psychology Today, “Routines enable athletes to be completely physically, technically, tactically, and mentally ready to perform their best. I don’t know a world-class athlete in any sport who does not use routines in part of his or her competitive preparations.”
One of my tennis coaches at NC State would always say, “Practice each day like it is a match. On game day, you focus a little bit more and you prepare a little bit better.”
Make this part of your mental routine each day you are on the course and court.