mental toughness training
In sports as in life, people admire success. Often times success even becomes a measurement tool for one's overall self-worth in the world.
Unfortunately, this misinformed infatuation by society has lead to many athletes and individuals feeling unhappy and even as a failure when they fall short of reaching society's standard of success. More specifically, what I've encountered at SPMI is that the struggle of chasing success begins at a young age when the athlete starts gaining attention and recognition from his or her coaches, parents, team, and anyone around the sport.
One question many parents and coaches ask about when getting their athlete started on mental training is how young is too young? The answer to this question is based on several factors such as attention acuity, memory retention, and language development. The majority of the youngest athletes who start training at SPMI begin at ages 8 to 10 years old. Athletes under the age of 10 are also pre-evaluated to see which program they qualify for. SPMI's youth mental training program focuses more on behavioral skills training such as routine development, breathing techniques, and goal setting.
Top athletes all share one successful mental skill that separates them from the rest of the field, a highly skilled ability to control and shift their focus from internal to external and from external to internal during the right moments. At SPMI, athletes are taught how to properly shift their focus as well as how to maximize each type of focus for all moments of performance. Internal focus is based on the athlete’s cognitions or thoughts. Internal focus is best used by the athlete when learning a new skill or dealing with a new discovery.
One of the most common issues athletes face is the overwhelming pressure that they feel before and during competition. Along with this pressure comes a shift in focus and an often fragile state of confidence. Many athletes then look for ways to improve their mental performance by asking how they can improve their confidence, stay more relaxed, and quiet the mind (avoid over-thinking). But the problem with many athletes goes beyond just the mental skills that they have not learned or mastered.
Empathy is defined as the ability to focus on what other people are thinking and understand how other people see things. This critical skill in sports has tremendous benefits to not only athletes but also to parents and coaches. Research shows that when individuals are able to show sincere empathy to others in pain or emotional stress, it produces a powerful calming effect. This effect depends on the level of empathy that an individual can demonstrate to the distressed individual.