If you're like most athletes, you believe that a commitment to the psychological dimension of your game will not only enhance your performance but also bring you closer to reaching your potential.
If you are also like most people, you may begin a mental skills program enthused and motivated for the first couple of weeks. But if you don't see dramatic results immediately, you may be tempted to revert back to your earlier habits.
Here's a look at some common roadblocks people face when dabbling in sports psychology, and what athletes can do to push through the resistance and reach their athletic goals.
No Quick Fix
In some ways, mental skills training is like the familiar New Years Resolution to "get in shape." Unfortunately, data indicates that 50 percent of the people who start an exercise and fitness program drop out within the first six months.
Our culture has sold us on the idea of quick fixes and immediate change. Instead of thinking of mental preparation as a "magic pill"—think of it as a "steady diet."
You will see results only if you commit to it in the same way you do the technical, tactical and physiological aspects—namely consistent and prolonged effort over time.
Why Athletes Give Up on the Mental Game
If so many top-level athletes and coaches extol the benefits of mental training for peak performance, then why do a relatively small percentage of teams and individuals commit to practicing and refining this critical part of performance?
Listed are the top four reasons athletes and teams give up on a mental skills program:
- I don't have enough time
- I'd like to do psychological skills training (PST) but I don't know how.
- You're either mentally tough and motivated or you're not. It can't be taught or acquired, so why try.
- People need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" and not look for improvements from this new fad. We never did any of that stuff when I was an athlete.