Maintaining Mental Strength in Sports

In sports, it’s what on the inside that counts.



In most sports, being competitive is crucial. Often it appears like the biggest aspect in sports is the physicality of the athletes. On the surface, it’s about who can run the fastest, who can lift the most weight or who can make the most three pointers. Stereotypically, being in shape is what signifies an athlete. However, many people refuse to take a deeper look into what truly shapes a good athlete.

It is all about mindset. If an athlete thinks negatively, they will perform negatively. Usually if an athlete goes into a competition already thinking they’re going to lose or perform poorly, that athlete will stand less of a chance at success.

Junior Skylar De’Lao is on the varsity basketball team and relies heavily on her mental toughness to push her through the hardships of the sport.

“It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how much you practice,” De’Lao said. “If you don’t truly believe you can do it, then you can’t.”

An important part of maintaining mental toughness is a consistent work ethic. A lot of time when an athlete does not perform as well as they wish, their confidence plummets. If that thought process continues, then the athlete can develop negative behavior and can even hold the team back with their mentality. It is important to keep going no matter the obstacle. Freshman varsity cheerleader Hadde Luebke is quickly grasping the mental aspect of the sport that the rest of her team possesses.

“If you keep [mistakes] in your mind then it brings your whole mindset down,” Luebke said. “You will feel like you can’t do as much as you actually [can] do.

The training that’s needed to establish mental toughness can be brought about by the coach or a leader. Anyone who can keep a leader mentality–don’t get too cocky but stay hopeful–in the back of their teammates’ minds–is sure to make a positive impact on their team’s success.

Junior field hockey player Haydin Sorrentino is very committed to ensuring her team develops trust between the athletes and the coaches.

“Being able to trust your team and only want the best for each other is really important,” Sorrentino said. “You can always remind your teammates to keep their heads up and try to keep their confidence consistent.”

The ultimate goal should result to being a confident athlete and setting an example for the team. However, when an individual takes a step in the wrong direction and becomes arrogant, then the line should be drawn.

“What makes you a bad athlete is when you’re so cocky to the point that you almost stop trying,” De’Lao said. “Using your talent more than effort makes you a bad athlete.”

There are many components that can help create a mentally tough athlete. Since there is no “I” in team, one of those aspects is trust with teammates. Winning cannot come from just one athlete; winning comes from the efforts of the entire team.

Endurance and strength is always important in athletics, but if any athlete goes into a competition with determination, then they should anticipate victory.

“[My coach] is always encouraging us to do stuff not just in the gym, but also at home and outside the gym,” Luebke said. “All of that building in our growth mindset and our mental toughness will increase our wellness as a team.”