The Body Listens to the Mind
If you’ve read my work before, I’m sure you know that I talk a lot about training from a program design perspective.
In other words, the X’s and O’s of an athlete’s inputs.
However, this is not to say that I don’t understand or appreciate the power of the mind and its role in all kinds of high-level performance.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter how physically capable a person is… if their mind is unwilling, unconfident or -in any way- reluctant, it will manifest in the body via their actions… resulting in a sub-par performance.
It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a Ferrari if you’re afraid to open up the throttle.
Related: Leveraging Positive Self-Talk
Unlocking Maximal Motivation
On the other hand, if your mind & psychology is oriented towards achieving your peak performance AND you are highly committed & maximally motivated, you will inevitably butt up against your ceiling of physical potential.
And I see this sort of thing a lot with the youth athletes I work with.
It’s a lot easier to steer or help direct a highly motivated kid who has a willingness to work and put in their best effort, than it is to motivate a kid who doesn’t want to be there.
Trying to motivate a lackluster athlete is the equivalent of paddling upstream…you work really hard and don’t really get anywhere.
It’s hard to argue against that.
But what about those athletes who are motivated?
The Path Forward
So should coaches almost exclusively focus on developing an athlete’s psychology and then simply direct their efforts towards sound training?
But why not?
Because you can’t execute quality training without developing an athlete’s mindset.
At a certain point mental toughness isn’t about a willingness to go deep into the pain cave.
It becomes about having the diligence to involve other people to help work on your unique limitations, and doubling down on all the processes that allow you to raise your performance ceiling.
Veteran athletes are mentally tough because they have spent a decade in the trenches doing long, hard training progressions with the sole intent of becoming as sharp as possible in their ability to execute maximal effort work when it matters most.
Repeatedly subjecting yourself to challenging, purposeful training changes your body and mind; they are inseparable.
Related: Is Confidence Overrated?
You Have To “Need” It
In the same way your bodily tissues adapt to consistent exposures, so does your psychology.
The way in which you mentally frame painful metabolic work, and how you prepare your mind for grueling sessions adapts as you NEED it.
That’s right…if you don’t HAVE to be mentally tough, you won’t be.
Peak performance can only be achieved through maximal motivation.
Maximal motivation can only be achieved through the engrained memory of a 1000 times you’ve recommitted.
So how do you build incredible mental resilience & motivation that lasts?
Remind yourself every day of how you want to show up to your next workout and execute to the best of your ability.