Sport is a physical and mental challenge; maintaining high levels of concentration while remaining relaxed with the confidence to succeed is a skill essential to long-term performance in any sport.
Possessing “mental toughness” while training and competing under extreme pressure and duress is especially important to success at the high performance level. At the same time, these mental skills can also enhance the individual’s experience in everyday life.
To develop mental toughness for success at elite levels, training programs must address the specific gender and LTAD stage of athletes. Training programs should include key mental components identified by sport psychologists: concentration, confidence, motivation, and handling pressure.
As an athlete progresses through LTAD stages, mental training will evolve from:
- Having fun and respecting opponents to
- Visualization and self-awareness to
- Goal setting, relaxation, and positive self-talk.
To develop mastery of these psychological skills, they must be tested in increasingly difficult competitive environments through the stages of LTAD.
Mental training is critical at all stages of LTAD as dealing with success and failure will impact athlete decisions to continue participating in the sport and physical activity in general. This impacts both their chances of maintaining an active lifestyle and their potential for podium performances at the elite level.
- Athletes with Disabilities
- Health Practitioners
- Recreation Professionals