Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi
Mental conditioning is probably one of the most overlooked concepts amongst both amateur and professional athletes these days. I believe that winning and losing ultimately comes down not to who has better physical gifts or more talent but rather to who wants it the most between the ears.
Everyone trains hard and everyone’s talented so why do some people continue to win? It’s impossible to measure but probably the best explanation is that some people just want it really, really badly and they are willing to damage themselves or practically kill themselves to get there. Sadly, there’s no way to measure this like physical limits.
So what does mental conditioning come down to and what are the areas that we as athletes discuss with our psychologists:
Fear of failure: Probably the most common symptom and this does not relate to only pro athletes.
Fear of winning: Interestingly, an underdog would be just a point away from the biggest win of his career playing magnificently and the next thing you know he can’t win a point. Does his ability suddenly change? Most probably not. But his mind begins to think of the outcome rather than the process. Again, equally common but not as frequently discussed.
Emotional control: Many athletes struggle to sleep before a big match. You’re nervous throughout the day and detached from everything around you focusing constantly on the game ahead. Controlling these emotions is the key to peak performance.
Lack of self belief: A notion that you don’t deserve to beat your opponent because he’s an ex-world champion and has won numerous championships. Creating a positive self-image of yourself and not worrying about your opponent is one of the most fundamental concepts in positive mind management.
Neuro-linguistic programming: A relatively new concept. It analyses the words and thoughts you convey to yourself during the day. For example, do you constantly think that you are going to lose? That your ankle is still sore? And how much better your opponent is? Instead, try changing your self talk as this is crucial to altering your self-image and as a result your performance during the match.