The Whole Athlete –
Part 3 of 4: The Power of The Mind
By Julie Shepherd
MIndset. What does it have to do with sports, athletic ability, or training? It actually has a lot to with all three. The famous Willie Mays said, “What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all”. How you think and feel during training and on game day can affect your performance.
In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., two types of mindsets are discussed; a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is someone who is not open to learning, does not take constructive criticism well, and thinks they have all they need to succeed without the help of others. Athletes with a fixed mindset seem to place blame on others and don’t take the time to look inward and see how they can improve. On the opposite spectrum, an athlete with a growth mindset is always looking to learn and grow. They seek out advice on how to improve and then actually do what is suggested. Athletes possessing a growth mindset understand they have to continue to work in order to be the best and not just rely on their talent.
Another area of mindset that can affect your performance is how you prepare your thoughts before a game or training. Are you positive and do you think about how you are going to win or train to the best of your ability? Or are you negative and think about all the things you are bad at or might do wrong? Do you tell yourself you are going to be great? Or do you say there’s no way I can beat that team? It seems trivial, but your chances of beating the team decrease when you put negative thoughts into your head. Now I’m not saying you will beat a team just because you tell yourself you can, but you definitely have a better chance if you have positive thoughts.
Meditation is all the rage right now, and I believe it has a place in the sports world. If you have the ability to clear your mind and create a vision in your head of how you are going to play, your chance for success can increase. We see athletes with their headphones in before the game, listening to music, a book, or maybe a meditation app to help prepare themselves to get into the right mindset. They might need to calm down, they might want to get pumped up, or maybe they are listening to themselves saying a mantra over and over again.
We have all heard from our own mouths or the sidelines, “Get your head in the game” and this can mean many things. One thing is for sure, if mentally you are somewhere else besides in the moment, the outcome is not going to be something you want. Next time you are heading to practice or to a game, check your thoughts, focus on a growth mindset, and take your game to a new level!
I wanted to share with you a video that I saw many years ago but has stayed with me until this day. If you have some time, take a look and ask yourself, are you ready for The Grind?