Most people do not think of “mental health” or “therapy” (that is not physical therapy) when they think of sports, athletes and setting goals. However, many athletes find they benefit greatly from better understanding and balancing the intersection of sports, life, balance, and new beginnings.
Research suggests that strategic goal setting in sports does not only positively affect athletic performance and goal attainment, but it also has positive effects on psychological well-being and an athlete’s mental health. After all, the brain is a muscle that need to be worked out and tended to as well! The mental work you put in off the field will work wonders on your general mental health, but also on your focus and mindset in the critical countdowns of whatever sport you participate in.
Goal setting is in fact a science, and the professional sports mindset coaches at Pure Health Center can help you (or the athletes in your life) balance roles, expectations and goals.
Use the motivation of a fresh start in the New Year to focus, reflect and plan to be the MVP of your goals.
Train Your Brain
Athletics is about far more than showing up to practice and on game day. It is about the mindset you cultivate walking into those days, but also about resetting and reflecting too. Some common issues athletes face are performance anxiety, pressure (from self and others), negative thoughts, self-doubt, fear of injury, fear of failure, and the stress of whatever else is going on in life. A student athlete has to balance athletics with academics and a social life on top of that too. It’s a lot of work, both on and off the field (or court)! This is why it is important to prioritize your time, schedule leisure to fit into your training, and listen to your body and mind when you need a break.
Even some of the best athletes, such as Olympian gymnast Simone Biles, deal with mental health issues due to the physical and mental demand of sports. Biles and other prestigious athletes recognize the importance of strengthening your mental game to help your physical game. A big part of athletics is recovery. Not just resting your muscles and getting enough sleep (that is very important too) but also reflecting, affirming, and making resolutions. A successful athletic career is a long game (no pun intended) that requires the athlete to condition their bodies and minds to be strong and resilient.
It makes sense that many of the most successful athletes stress the importance of how taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health. Many teams will even have their own psychologist or therapist to help athletes identify, process and improve aspects of their mental health that are affecting their game and vice versa. Before you hit the big leagues, you can engage in Pure’s Sports Mindset Coaching to help you decrease doubt and stress and increase performance and satisfaction.
Reach your GOOOOOOOOOOOALs
So, how will you set goals for yourself to improve your performance while taking care of the mental aspect of the game? Fortunately, goal setting in sports is a widely researched topic, so there are loads of tips and tricks to support your lifestyle in the healthiest and strongest way. Coaches, teams and individual players set personal and professional goals to track achievements and continue to improve their game.
It is very important for a good athlete to understand that practice makes perfect and perfect is what you achieve when you are trying your best. Obviously, competition is important, but so is enjoying the game you are passionate about. Below is a list of key concepts to remember when setting goals and reflecting on achievements.
- Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable
- Ask for help/guidance from parents, mentors, teammates, and coaches
- Manage your expectations because not every practice and performance can be perfect
- Take rest days to recoup and reflect to give your mind & body a break
- Practice positive affirmations to help rid yourself of negative thoughts that can negatively affect your game
- Face your failures to fuel your successes
- Embrace radical acceptance because you can’t win every game/match and that is OK!
- Practice mindfulness to stay present in the important moments of your sport (so you don’t overthink past performance, and don’t have too much anxiety for future matches)
And always remember, an athlete does not (and should not) face the pressures and challenges of their sport alone. Most athletes would do anything to improve their game and become a better player, and part of this process is improving your mental game as well. For advice on how to maximize your mindset, see what Pure Health Center can do for you.