• Bonnie

How to improve your mindset

Updated: Jan 20

We aren’t necessarily talking about professional athletes or an Olympic champion when it comes to mindset.


Below are situations where having the right mindset will help you advance or succeed:

  • An important job interview

  • Performing a solo with a symphony orchestra

  • Auditioning for a role in a drama production

  • Giving a class/work presentation

  • Taking a driver’s examination

  • Giving a talk to the PTA

  • Testifying in court

  • Taking an exam

  • Performing brain surgery

  • A competition

  • Landing an airplane

  • A firefighter entering a burning building

  • Participating in a military or police attack

  • An astronaut landing a vehicle on the surface of the moon

  • Rock Climbing

These situations are often scheduled or anticipated in advance. They usually have a defined beginning and an end.

The circumstances are known in advance.

The rules and constraints are known in advance.

The results are evaluated by standards (or natural consequences) that are usually known in advance.

The results are uncertain and may involve psychological risk and/or danger.

The results are important to the performer.

The performer’s behavior is goal-oriented.

The results are influenced by the performer’s skillful behavior.


A Brief List of the Nine Mental Skills:

  1. Choose and maintain a positive attitude.

  2. Maintain a high level of self-motivation.

  3. Set high, realistic goals.

  4. Deal effectively with people.

  5. Use positive self-talk.

  6. Use positive mental imagery.

  7. Manage anxiety effectively.

  8. Manage their emotions effectively.

  9. Maintain concentration.

Studies show that these skills are learned and can be improved through instruction and practice (yay, we’re not all doomed!).


Below is a breakdown of how these Nine Mental Skills can be learned:


1. Attitude

Realize that attitude is a choice.

Choose an attitude that is predominately positive.

View their sport as an opportunity to compete against themselves and learn from their successes and failures.

Pursue excellence, not perfection, and realize that they, as well as their coaches, teammates, officials, and others are not perfect.

Maintain balance and perspective between their sport and the rest of their lives.

Respect their sport, other participants, coaches, officials, and themselves.


2. Motivation

Are aware of the rewards and benefits that they expect to experience through their sports participation.

Are able to persist through difficult tasks and difficult times, even when these rewards and benefits are not immediately forthcoming.

Realize that many of the benefits come from their participation, not the outcome.


3. Goals and Commitment

Set long-term and short-term goals that are realistic, measurable, and time-oriented.

Are aware of their current performance levels and are able to develop specific, detailed plans for attaining their goals.

Are highly committed to their goals and to carrying out the daily demands of their training programs.


4. People Skills

Realize that they are part of a larger system that includes their families, friends, teammates, coaches, and others.

When appropriate, communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs to these people and listen to them as well.

Have learned effective skills for dealing with conflict, difficult opponents, and other people when they are negative or oppositional.


5. Self-Talk

Maintain their self-confidence during difficult times with realistic, positive self-talk.

Talk to themselves the way they would talk to their own best friend

Use self-talk to regulate thoughts, feelings and behaviors during competition.


6. Mental Imagery

Prepare themselves for competition by imagining themselves performing well in competition.

Create and use mental images that are detailed, specific, and realistic.

Use imagery during competition to prepare for action and recover from errors and poor performances.


7. Dealing Effectively with Anxiety

Accept anxiety as part of sport.

Realize that some degree of anxiety can help them perform well.

Know how to reduce anxiety when it becomes too strong, without losing their intensity.


8. Dealing Effectively with Emotions

Accept strong emotions such as excitement, anger, and disappointment as part of the sport experience.

Are able to use these emotions to improve, rather than interfere with high level performance


9. Concentration:

Know what they must pay attention to during each game or sport situation.

Have learned how to maintain focus and resist distractions, whether they come from the environment or from within themselves.

Are able to regain their focus when concentration is lost during competition.

Have learned how to play in the “here-and-now”, without regard to either past or anticipated future events.


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