Mental toughness is vital to every sport
The mental game, or mental toughness, as many like to call it, is four things: staying calm under pressure, keeping yourself focused on the right things, being able to rebound quickly from your mistakes, and
having confidence in yourself and your abilities. Strong competitors here at PRHS, like volleyball player Madison Anderson, crosscountry queen Ashley Davis, and swimmer Kasey Moffitt, know that these four things are necessary for success.
Talk with or observe these stars and it’s clear their sport is not all about putting in the physical work. They will argue that the mental game is just as important as physical training – if not more.
Senior Ashley Davis has been a competitor in Cross Country and Track since her freshman year and in that time has seen great success. “It’s going really well,” Davis said with grin from ear to ear. She is a strong believer in having mental toughness and claims that, “The mindset is really important.” “It’s a very big part of it, especially in running. It’s such a difficult sport, you have to have a really strong mindset.” In the past, Ashley experienced the consequences of a poor mindset, but she says that “I have been learning to keep a really positive mindset.”
Not only do athletes here a PRHS believe in this philosophy, it’s what the pros do. LeCharles Bentley, offensive line performance coach, has been working with Larry Warford, the third-year guard for the Detroit Lions. Bentley is usually at his training facility, in Scottsdale, Arizona, working NFL players into the ground, but one athlete needed different training. Knowing the importance of the mental game, Bentley sat down with Warford and focused on the space between his ears, according to ESPN.
“Once again… a young guy that has played well and shown his salt as an NFL player. You want those guys to start looking and trying new things to get better. But what you don’t want to have happen is they ultimately start reaching too far and trying to do too much,” Bentley said.
Dr. Alan Goldberg, an internationally recognized expert in the field of performance enhancement, is also a believer in not “reaching too far,” according to his website competitivedge.com. He believes “your concentration needs to stay in the moment,” and that “If you let your mind jump ahead to the future, (i.e. thinking about winning or losing) or slip back to the past (i.e. a previous mistake), then you’ll end up getting yourself too uptight and distracted to perform to your potential,” said Goldberg.
Madison Anderson, a member of the JV volleyball team said, “Without it you are somewhere else.” Anderson, a sophomore here at PRHS, is a very competitive volleyball player. She is known by her teammates to always be calm and cool, even after a loss. Anderson believes that paying your physical dues is just as important as having mental toughness and that “they feed off each other.”
“Your attitude can make or break you,” said Junior Kasey Moffitt. “You could do all the training and be totally ready, but if you tell yourself ‘there’s no way I’m going to be able to do it,’ than you won’t have to motivation to win.”
Moffitt has been a competitive swimmer since the age of 10 and is now trying her hardest to get a scholarship in swimming at UCLA, “I have a sticky note on my mirror with the fast times from UCLA, so everytime I look at my mirror I’m like ‘gotta get that before senior year’.” Having lots of experience in the field, she knows that “you’re racing against yourself,” and a positive mindset is crucial. “I learned the hard way. I would freak out before the race and tell myself I’m not going to do good, and I then I would swim, and I wouldn’t do good,” said Moffitt. When it is time to put her practice to work she knows what to do, “I get to the block and just zone in.” “My mom always tells me the body achieves what the mind believes,” says Moffit with a smile on her lips.