Mental Preparation Matters
How important is mental performance in sports? At the elite level some credit it to contributing 90% to success. I believe it is closer to 25% but is utilized 90% of the time between points in tennis. Physical, technical & strategic skill competence are the other 75% of performance. These three articles on Iga Światek, recent winner of the U.S. Open & Ons Jabeur runner up to Iga Światek speak to how both these players apply mental skills to their performance.
Key points are focusing on what you can control as there are internal distractions, which include internal thoughts, expectations, future outcome focus, and internal mental discussions a player carries on with themselves. Then there are actual external distractions. At the U.S. Open there were an abundance of external distractions, from Serena Williams presence, to media coverage of Rafa Nadal losing to American player Francis Tiafoe, to Nick Kyrgios’s melt downs on the court, never a dull moment at the Open or any big event.
Though these articles are about tennis players the content of sport psychology is relevant to any athlete that competes. Mental skills are learned, most are fairly simple to learn, but figuring out what works best for you and your sport, regular practice and use under challenging situations is where performers will reap the greatest benefits.