How to Stay Mentally Tough – learning from a world class athlete

What are some of the mental toughness techniques used? Here’s a summary list:

Singaporean Swimming Paralympic Bronze Medalist Theresa GOH uses

– Visualisation
– Confidence-building exercises
– Mindfulness exercises
– Thinking positively
– Consulting with a sport psychologist to assess and work on one’s mental readiness

Visualisation:  Theresa imagines the ideal race plan executed perfectly. Likewise, anyone can do the same! Imagine the processes involved when performing.

Confidence-building exercises:  There are many ways to build confidence. One way is to repeat the above-mentioned visualisation exercises regularly many times. It gives your mind the assurance you need. In addition, being mindful of your body helps you focus on the process of performance, while thinking positively can help you boost your own self-belief.

Mindfulness:  To help runners get into “the zone,” Nike Running Club app partnered with meditation app Headspace(tm) to co-create audio-guided runs to give guidance on staying focused and in control of their runs.  Learning to focus on and “listening” to your body or rhythm while moving is one way.

Thinking Positively:  SportPsych Consulting’s Founder and Chief Sport & Performance Psychologist Edgar Tham says that:

“Self-talk is fundamental to cognitive control, as it is basically our own internal dialogue. Studies have shown that negative self-talk can lead to detrimental effects like performance decrements and even depression.” He suggests framing your thoughts to focus on what you want, instead of what you don’t.”

“For example, say ‘stay calm’ instead of ‘don’t be nervous’ when you’re trying to reduce anxiety. Instead of saying ‘don’t mess up or drop the ball’, say ‘keep it tight.’ Positive thinking is a very simple and powerful way to help one perform up to one’s potential by harnessing the power of the mind. It’s one of the most-used but often under-optimised mental skills!”

Working with a Sports Psychologist or Mental Toughness Coach:  There are mental coaching services available to everyone. We are happy to inform you, the reader, that SportPsych Consulting is Southeast Asia’s first and largest sport & performance psychology consultancy, and also MTRI’s Asia Pacific HQ to deliver mental toughness coaching to everyone who needs it.

Adapted and published with permission from SportPsych Consulting. 
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