Rebecca Reidy<br />Professor Quinn<br />10 April 2011<br />ENGL 2960<br />Mental Toughness<br />Scott Hamilton had a diges...
Mental toughness
Mental toughness
Mental toughness
Mental toughness
Mental toughness
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Mental toughness

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Mental toughness

  1. 1. Rebecca Reidy<br />Professor Quinn<br />10 April 2011<br />ENGL 2960<br />Mental Toughness<br />Scott Hamilton had a digestive disease that stunted his growth. He wanted to be a figure skater, but everyone said he was too small to succeed in international competition. He was five-foot-three and 115 pounds and he stood alone in the spotlight of the Winter Olympics. The judging is brutal in figure skating. One tiny mistake could cost you a fraction of a point and could make the difference between victory and defeat. But he took a big breath and became one with the music and after four minutes it was over. He wore a gold medal later that day. Hamilton credited his success to his mental preparedness. He said, “Under pressure, people can perform fifteen percent better or fifteen percent worse” (Casstevens 19). Mental toughness can help you reach dreams that you never thought you could achieve. Some athletes do not understand that you have to be mentally strong to be consistent with success. For example, in a nightmare your body makes you feel like every thought and image is real and actually occurring, but in reality nothing is happening (Casstevens 6). The mind is a very complicated concept and athletes should take the time to realize how good they could be with more knowledge about the “mental side”. The reasons that a major part of sports is mental is because of the law of dominant thought, distractions, fear of failure, pressure and the four C’s.<br />First off, the law of dominant thought determines what is going through player’s heads. They could be thinking about negative, positive or neutral thoughts. But psychology comes into play here because people’s actions tend to follow our thoughts and images (Casstevens 11). Everyone expresses their thoughts through their actions, words, and body language. Humans were made to function this way. For example, if a basketball player is thinking, “don’t miss this free throw,” their dominant thought is “do not miss”. They are probably going to miss their free throw. But if the basketball player was thinking, “I can make this free throw.” The chances of the player making the basket are higher because of his confidence and positive thoughts. The dominant thought theory also relates to the saying, “Don’t look where you don’t want to go,” (Casstevens 12). You need to keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused on being successful. The more positive the athlete, the more successful he or she will be.<br />Another reason the mental side of athletics is important is because of distractions. Peoples’ minds are always thinking about something. There are a lot of distractions such as deaths in the family, relationship problems, or school troubles, but to be mentally tough you have to put all of those on the side when you step on the field or court. It is hard to block out some of those thoughts, but you have to stay focused on the task in front of you; this is called being “task conscious”. It is important to eliminate these thoughts because they are likely to cause you to because stress and more easily frustrated. Our minds are very similar to a television in the sense that an inappropriate channel could pop up at the wrong time, but if you do not like what you are watching then change it. This means that you can control your mind. You have the power to change something if you do not like the how it is turning out. One technique that can help athletes is called the distraction technique. In the distraction technique you pick a word that seems to calm you down and relax you and when times get hard or you notice that you are becoming distracted, say that word and you will find yourself more engaged in the game (Casstevens 9).<br />Another major part of why sports are mental is because of the fear of failure. Fear can hold back any athlete from winning. It makes you tense up and inhibits you from playing to your full potential. Some athletes are afraid they will look stupid if they fail and they start to overthink the game. In my research I discovered that humans are the only species that get in the way of their own growth (Casstevens 85). And when athletes become scared of failure they are stunting their growth in athletics. But all-star pitcher Greg Maddux makes a good point that, “Failure is the best teacher in the world… you get to learn from what happens to you- both good and bad- in a real-life game situation,” (Casstevens 79). Athletes will learn the best from experience and everyone fails, but it is how you react to failing that really counts. Athletes have to take chances in their sport, sometimes they just have to go for it and put it all on the line. But the bottom line is that, “failing to learn is learning to fail,” (Casstevens 80). It will be hard for athletes to continue improving if they never take a chance and real 100 percent go for the win.<br />An Olympic gold medalist, Scott Hamilton said, “Under pressure, people can perform fifteen percent better or fifteen percent worse,” (Casstevens 19). Pressure can cause people to become very tense and not play to his or her full potential. If you become mental tough then pressure will not change how you play. Mentally tough athletes are the ones that can play at the same level in every situation. Chuck Noll brings up a very good point in saying that athletes let the pressure get to them when they do not know what they are doing (Casstevens 19). Pressure can take away all of your confidence and make you freeze, but if the player was to stay relaxed then he or she will play relaxed. “The only pressure I’m under,” Mark Messier said, “is the pressure I’ve put on myself,” (Casstevens 20). In conclusion, athletes should become mental stable to overcome the pressure and play the game at a high level and with confidence.<br />According to sports psychology, there are seven characteristics of mental toughness. The first one is being competitive. Competitors are always finding a way to win and doing whatever it takes. They make the best of the obstacles and use them to push themselves that much more. For example, Michael Jordan, the one of the greatest basketball players, was a great example of this because he attempted playing baseball. He could not accept not trying another sport, he did not give up. Next, there is confidence in the mental side of the game. Athletes need to have that positive can-do attitude. Players need to believe they are the best and then others will start to believe it as well. It all starts with yourself and grows from there. The third category is being able to control emotions. Humans are very emotional in everything we do. If athletes focus on what they can control and not on what they cannot control they will be better off. Control is greatly needed when under pressure. It will help keep you calm and make you relax. Another group in mental toughness is about being committed. To get anywhere in your sport the athlete has to be committed 100 percent and want to improve. It is all about how much you will push yourself. The ones that stay motivated keep their eyes on the prize and eliminate all other distractions that could break their dream. Another topic is composure and how to keep your cool when the heat is on. This relates to how to deal with pressure. You need to stay calm because if you play tense you will start breathing hard and get nervous. Now, courage also plays apart in mental toughness because every athlete must be willing to take a risk. If a player puts it all on the line, that is how he or she can reach his or her full potential. Lastly, consistency also plays a role in the mental game.<br />Overall, the mental side of sports is very important to have in order for an athlete to reach his or her full potential. It all starts with the mind. Positive thoughts may not work all the time, but negative ones work every time. In conclusion, keep your mind focused, do not be afraid to make mistakes, stay calm under pressure and remember the four C’s.<br />Works Cited<br />Casstevens, David., Mack, Gary. Mind Gym. McGraw-Hill, 2002.<br />Cohon, Patrick. “Sports Psychology and Performance Enhancement.” EMaxhealth.com. 2005. 27 <br />March 2011. <http://www.emaxhealth.com/7/1321.html>.<br /> “Develop Mental Toughness”. Jean-Paul, Ralph. 14 April 2011. <br /><http://www.potential2success.com/develpomentaltoughness.html>.<br />“Mental Toughness”. Ray, Jolly. 28 June 2003. 14 April 2011.<br /><http://www.bharatiyahockey.org/gurukul/class12.htm>.<br />“Nine Tips to Mental Toughness”. Braunreiter, Garrett. 14 April 2011. <br /><http://www.internetfitness.com/articles/9tips.htm>.<br />“Psychology”. Sports Coach. 1 January 1997. 27 March 2011. <br /><http://www.brianmac.co.uk/psych.htm>.<br />Sugarman, Karlene. Winning the Mental Way. Step Up Publishing, 2007. 27 March 2011.<br />“The ‘mental’ side of sports”. NewsTimes.com 20 January 2010. 27 March 2011. <br /><http://www.newstimes.com/health/article/The-mental-side-of-sports-328184.php>.<br />

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