When you are competing, are you able to push when you are exhausted and uncomfortable? Do you start putting doubts in your mind when training starts getting harder? How often can you push past your limits in practice and training sessions? Can you regularly achieve levels of discomfort as you challenge your physical capacity?
The key to challenging yourself physically is training the mind to overcome self-imposed limitations. Phrases like “I can’t,” or “I’m too tired,” are the words that an athlete will not use when pushing themselves to their limits. Training like this is a habit requiring the daily commitment to explore the limits of your performance — mentally and physically. Pushing the limits is a characteristic of mentally tough athletes who strive for success.
Here are a few things that athletes need to look at to help develop mental toughness and push the limits to be successful:
- You must develop the ability to switch focus to the things that enhance your performance. (For example, if you are tired and hurting, you can distract yourself by focusing on your tempo.)
- You need to remember the payoff. All the discomfort you are experiencing leads to a greater reward.
- You must learn to push the limits in practice. If you develop the habit of exploring your limits in training, you will be better prepared to push the limits in competition.
- You need to learn how to trust yourself in competition. Know what you have prepared in practice and trust in your skills.
- Stay confident in your skills and abilities. Use positive self-talk and boost yourself up when the going gets tough.
- Remember to focus on what you can control when pushing your limits. If something goes wrong or isn’t the way you expected. Focus on your own skills and what you’ve practiced.
- Focus on your game, not on your competitors. Don’t compare yourself to the athletes you are competing against. This will only undermine your confidence, thus making it difficult to push your limits.
- Remember to focus on the process, not the results. By focusing on the results, you lose focus on what you are currently doing. Your whole focus should be on what you are doing if you want to perform your best.