Layers of Mental Management in Sports

Published by Susan Zaro on

In every sport a player competing in the upper tiers have earned the perks they receive. It takes time, dedication, commitment to develop and optimize the physical skills necessary to compete consistently and effectively at the top. Some athletes arrive at the height of their sport faster than other players. There is a confluence of factors that come into play. An athlete may be naturally talented, or is a good fit for the sport, works harder or receives support in ways that allow accelerated progress. Some athletes face a steeper time line to the top.The athlete may have developed physically later or didn’t have the opportunity to seek out or invest time in learning mental strategies to compliment their physical skills. Another scenario is athlete has a major year of success then struggles to hold their level or improve and fall back. 

As an athlete develops his/her physical performance capacity he/she benefits from having mental performance skills in place. As sport performance evolves and demands of an athlete on and off the court increase a successful athletic training program includes solid mental performance skills, as well as knowledge to manage their mental health needs. There is a difference in focus from mental performance skill and managing mental health. Mental performance focuses on readiness to compete and skills to maintain mental clarity during competition. Mental health concerns an athlete’s well-being and encompasses a broader scope of an athlete’s life.  An athlete prepared for all these areas has better odds of reaching their athletic goals. 

The two articles below are about tennis and tour life. They are useful to read because too frequently media highlights the high points of athletic “wins” and these articles touch on the reality of the grind, focus, determination and fight it takes to be at the top. This doesn’t mean that the process isn’t fun, exciting and filled with opportunities when a player’s mental mindset is in the right place. It does mean that an athlete starting out may not begin at the top. The engagement it takes to stay motivated and move closer to perks at the top are fueled as mental and physical aspects of performance grow.  The core of the content can be related to any sport.