A few weeks ago, I was talking with a volleyball parent about my recent blog posts and she was explaining to me how valuable and informational she thought they were, but how she was having difficulty with her daughter, who is a sophomore in high school, buying in to the whole “mental game.” Briefly, I considered my adolescent years and realized that during this stage many failures are personalized and attributed to physical aspects, like a lack of ability rather than a mental component, such as deficits in focus or confidence. When an athlete doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with their mental game or that it even exists, it’s difficult to train their mental game, which is quite common among the younger athletes and players still on the fence about mental skills.
However, all athletes want to be “mentally tough,” whatever that means, right? Mentally tough people are more consistent than their non-mentally tough counterparts. So, one way to start building everyday consistency for those athletes who do not buy-in completely to mental skills training is to develop a morning routine, something you do each morning as soon as your feet hit the floor and before you brush your teeth. The routine should be something quick and easy to execute on a regular basis, something like this:
-Wake up: wake up 10 minutes earlier than you should to provide time for the routine.
-Breathe: While standing comfortably with your eyes closed, take 10 deep breaths.
-Jumping jacks: Do 10 jumping jacks.
-Be Positive: Recite a positive word or phrase aloud 5 times, for example “Persistence” or “Do what you do on purpose, with purpose.”
-Accountability: have a calendar or create a journal where you can log your routine or simply “check it off” every day. Accountability builds consistency.
-Brush your teeth!
Routines can vary depending on the athlete; for instance, instead of jumping jacks the athlete may want to do push-ups. Once the individual routine is established, the goal is to maintain the regimen on a day-to-day basis. Also, this technique is not just for those who question mental training. All athletes from various levels could develop a morning routine to further cultivate the consistency in their daily lives and performance, enhancing their mental toughness.