Time To Retrain Your Brain?

Published by Susan Zaro on

“” is an article from SportPsychWorks, through APA-47. It is a simple check list an athlete can use to reflect on which mindset they bring into their sport development. Often an athlete traverses between two mindsets, one being Fixed the other Growth. (Reference the article). Mindset can be defined as a belief about self. Successful high performance athlete’s develop growth mental habits to access their best self by embracing  vs. bracing against, the thoughts and actions they need to navigate challenges in challenging environments. 

For example a young athlete with a fixed mindset of their physical and mental skills.“ I am competing on a difficult golf course. I never play well here. I’ll try my best but…” Already the athlete has predetermined the outcome is not going to be successful. The mindset doesn’t allow room for the possibilities of having a good performance even before the player begins. A growth view would be that this athlete is able to think to times when he/she played well on this course. Which holes were easier than others? When doing well on a hole what were his/her thoughts/actions? What does the athlete know to be his/her mental & physical strengths & how they can be applied to this challenge? Young athlete’s can become stuck in fixed mental mindsets. Their inner dialogue & mental focus frequently spiral into, anxiety, feelings of over whelm, self-doubt about abilities, withdrawal (why try), anger, frustration, fill in the blank. The athlete has so much going on in their mental dialogue they can’t tap into their playing potential. 

A growth mindset is learned behavior. It involves attention and being aware of when inner dialogue tapes turn towards bracing vs. embracing the moment and explore where those thoughts/feelings are coming from. An athlete can develop the mental tools to shift his/her thoughts and feelings under the stresses of competition – when it counts. Mentally tough performers know psychological skills provide a competitive edge when they are as sharp as their physical skills.

Where is your strength on the mindset checklist? Are you a great in practice but struggle in stressful conditions? When you are in a fixed mindset what are the blocks? When you are exhibiting growth mindset what is your experience that allows that to happen?