top 10 things mentally tough athletes do

Mentally tough athletes understand that their toughness is rooted deep within themselves and is a part of their identity. In order to build mental toughness as an athlete, you have to treat it as any other skill you’re trying to develop. It’s a skill. And, you have to practice it every day in order to keep it.

So, in order to build mental toughness, you need to know what to practice. Here are the top 10 things that mentally tough athletes do every day in order to stay at the top of their game.

10They have a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence)

Mentally tough athletes are perceived by others to be the type of athletes that bottle their emotions and bury them deep down inside. Contrary to popular belief, mentally tough athletes actually are absolutely aware of their emotions and how they make them feel. What they understand is that their emotions can serve as a massive distraction to their daily progress.

These relentless and mentally tough athletes have a high level of emotional intelligence. Every day, mentally tough athletes make “brave” decisions to go against the way that they feel because they understand that real growth begins outside of your comfort zone. If you want to play at a higher level than ever before and be happier than ever

9They understand what realistic goals are

Every athlete dreams about being at the top. What separates mentally tough athletes from mediocre ones is that the athletes with mental toughness don’t let their dreams get in the way of their goals. Having a “dreamer” mentality is both a blessing and a curse – it fuels passion and is a massive distraction.

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Mentally strong athletes understand that dreams don’t always turn out as you hope. Instead, they replace broad, boisterous dreams with small actionable daily goals that help them take steps closer to their dreams every day.

8They solve their problems

When it comes to facing their fears, mentally tough athletes realize they are the ones responsible for making their lives better. Instead of complaining about the way things are going for them, mentally tough athletes take action and solve their own problems, no matter how big or intimidating their problems are.

Whenever problems arise on a team or in life, they evaluate their problems with a level headed mindset and then take action towards solving them. They may use others to help them out from time to time, but they don’t use their teammates and coaches to help them solve their problems.

7They go out of their way to do things that make them feel uncomfortable

Mentally tough athletes understand that real growth happens when they push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Instead of shying away from difficult challenges, they meet them head on without the fear of failure.

Progress begins where your comfort zone ends.  If you want to become a better athlete on a daily basis, then you need to try and find things to do that push you out of your comfort zone. You can start today by practicing a skill that you’ve been too afraid of practicing because you’re either bad at it or you’re afraid of looking stupid doing it.  Then, implement that practice into your daily routine from here on out to make it habitual.

6They are on top of their time management 

One of the hardest things to do as a student-athlete is managing your time efficiently. You only have so many hours in the day to practice, lift, go to school, do homework, and hang out with your friends or family in some down time.  The pressure of trying to balance everything at once is what causes many athletes to fall short in areas that are not the most important to them, or even worse, quit.

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Develop your time management skills by putting together a daily calendar. When you lay your day out the night before you go to bed, it allows you to mentally prepare for what’s in store for you tomorrow. Mentally tough athletes always prepare – Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

5They don’t live in the past

If you look the weekly interviews and press conferences from all of the top performing athletes, you will see them end their conversations about taking it one game at a time and looking to prepare for the next opponent.  Mentally tough athletes understand that the past is over and that what they do in the present is what determines their future.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your victories, but you can’t live your day-to-day life being proud of what you accomplished yesterday.  Every day brings a new opportunity to build on your previous version of yourself, and there are a lot of athletes that fail to understand that. If you think you aren’t, answer yourself this question truthfully and honestly: Have you ever had a “great game” or a “big win” on the weekend and took the next practice off?

4They push themselves in the present

Mentally tough athletes are always the hardest workers on the team.  They never dog it or take a day off.  They always show up to play.  They’re battle tested and always are up for competition. That’s because they understand that their daily struggles are what make them stronger and more resilient.

The struggles you go through in life don’t break you, they make you who you are. If you’re too tired, sore, can’t focus, or keep losing – just keep going. On the other side of your pain is progress.  You’re already suffering, so you might as well see through it to the end. Or you can live with the pain of regret for the rest of your life.  That’s the only pain that never goes away.

3They’re inspired & have a purpose for the future

The inspiration that mentally tough athletes pull from is realizing that they have a purpose. And, they strive every day to fulfill that purpose. They realize that every player has a different path and understand that their career is a daily process.  It may be playing in college or the pros, or getting a scholarship, but there is one thing that they all have in common: Mentally tough athletes have dreams and they’re not stopping until they reach them, no matter what anyone says.

Answer yourself the following question: What’s my purpose and why do I want to achieve it? Once you do so, you can start working on a daily basis to achieve your goal. While its great to have goals, they don’t mean anything unless you push yourself beyond your comfort zone every day to reach them. Nothing works unless you do.

2They don’t make excuses or point the finger of blame

Mentally tough athletes always own their mistakes and never make excuses for them. You don’t hear them respond to a hard question “Well I thought”, “They should have”, “I was covering for”, “It’s because I” when they’re asked why they messed up. They park their feelings, and understand the criticism they receive is to make them better, not to test their character. And, when they have to answer, they don’t point the finger of blame.

Whether they’re reflecting internally or answering questions, mentally tough athletes have character and always point thumbs towards themselves instead of pointing the finger of blame at others. When you point fingers, you never take responsibility for your own actions and make excuses for why you’re falling short. You’re never wrong in your own eyes. Instead, you need to understand that you don’t know everything and not take criticism personally. Never put the burden of blame on your teammates and coaches. Own it, be a great teammate and eat the frog.

1They discipline themselves before others have to

It’s a funny thing to watch athletes cringe when you mention discipline in sports. When they hear the word “discipline”, many athletes believe that its some form of physical punishment coming because they messed something up. However, discipline is not punishment. Discipline is simply correcting your behavior.

Discipline is doing all of the hard things that others are too weak to do. It means doing more work than your competition, being a great teammate when times are tough, always completing your work, listening to your coaches, abiding by all rules, always being on time, going to bed early instead of staying up late, waking up early to put some practice time in, never making excuses, and pushing yourself to make the right decision every time.

When you discipline yourself, you don’t have to worry about what coaches think about you. You don’t have to worry about the consequences of your actions. And most certainly, you don’t have to worry about putting your best foot forward on a daily basis. It’s engrained in your DNA. It’s who you are. And, it’s the foundation that mentally tough athletes put their roots in on their pathway to success.

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