Mindset does matter in sports, and in this article, we will explain why. We will also give examples of how you can improve yours, along with tips and tactics that all work to support and help develop your mindset.
First, we will start by explaining what mindset is; if you are unfamiliar, it refers to a feeling and sense of self. In sports, it relates to a particular approach; typically, this is one of ambition, determination and self-belief, the foundations of optimal performance.
A brilliant example of mindset is undertaking a task that may look or feel challenging. An instance where your mindset must be on point is running a Marathon because 26.2 miles is more than most humans will ever attempt. In fact, 0.17% of humans will ever complete the Marathon, showing that it takes a particular mental strength to commit and achieve such a feat.
Why is mindset important in Sport?
Mindset is important in sports because it focuses your energy and channels positive determination to the task at hand. This task could be a crucial game against an impressive local football team, attempting to outplay your tennis nemesis, or undertaking the biggest bike ride you’ve ever considered. Whatever the challenge, your mindset must be right. Mindset is directly linked with confidence and self-belief. Sometimes, as sportspersons and human beings, doubt can creep in. Having doubts is normal, but having the right mindset will prevent those doubts from taking control of your situation, negatively impacting performance and potential outcomes.
If you were at mile 18 in your Marathon, you still have a long way to go, so doubting your ability to complete the race at this stage would be critical and could even see you failing it all together.
How do I regain my confidence in sports?
The best way to regain confidence in sports is to train and improve yourself by repeating scenarios in readiness for your event. In football, this might be training with your teammates to build a relationship of trust, taking corners or throw-ins. If you’re running a Marathon, this would be training week in and week out to ensure you can achieve mile 22. Training will help you regain your mojo because you know you can achieve your goal. Taking yourself to mile 22 or turning up and playing different scenarios with your teammates helps your self-belief, which fuels confidence and can help you achieve the perfect mindset.
How can I improve my sports mindset?
Practice/Training - As mentioned several times earlier in this article, training is essential to your preparation and mindset in sports. In Rugby, training to win the ball, tackle the opposition or push-up field gives teammates confidence and improves mindset. Practising a lineout week after week will be the difference in confidence that could mean reaching that extra bit higher, jumping a little bit further or judging your timing perfectly.
Exercise - Not to be confused with training, which helps with confidence and scenarios. Exercise is brilliant at avoiding niggles from training and building a positive body/performance expectation. When training for a Marathon, the athlete will train long runs, short runs and intervals, and they may also choose to use exercises like squats, lunges and plyo workouts to strengthen joints, build a variety of muscle types, and, in doing so, reduce the chance of injury. Starting a Marathon knowing you have niggle can really affect your mindset, the same as ill-fitting shoes giving you blisters at mile 12. Exercise works to provide the most robust platform for your sport and, in doing so, avoids debilitating concerns over health affecting your mindset and performance. Exercise is directly linked to mental health and well-being. Read more about this from Mirafit - Five Amazing Things Exercise Does For Your Mental Health.
Sportswear - Often, we see runners and club sports like Rugby lean into a sense of strength from belonging to and being proud of their club. Club runners are often very proud of their association with the club, and when the going gets tough, they proudly dig in to push out the last mile. Sportswear helps to strengthen identity, and custom sportswear explicitly designed for your club gives you the belief in yourself, your club and your team.
“Just as what you wear to an important meeting or on a first date can impact your mood and confidence, your wardrobe can definitely affect your fitness flow, too.” - Quote One Peloton.
Fuel - Despite more and more of us taking an interest in our diets, you realise just how important diet is to mindset. Feeling strong can undoubtedly make you stronger, and eating the right foods before a game or a race will ensure you have enough energy to perform confidently and for the duration. Some runners who may lack experience will avoid eating too much before a race because they believe it will slow them down, when in fact, the one thing that will slow them down is lack of energy and the wall they’ll hit if they haven’t fueled correctly.
Rest - Believe it or not, ensuring that you have sufficient rest can be the key to feeling ready for the task ahead. Lack of sleep will zap energy, cause confusion and stop you from feeling like the best foot forward. Circling back to Marathon training, to stop running a week to week-and-a-half before your run seems incredibly counterintuitive. However, ensuring that the muscles in your legs are fully recovered, energised and feeling good is more important than any last-minute training. At this point, you’ve done the miles, so you can trust in your planning; digging in on the day and using your self-belief and mindset will help you get through.
What we have learned
We learned that being ready through training helps us feel confident, and we learned that exercise helps us avoid injury niggles which might play on our minds. We found that the right mindset can come from wearing the right clothes for your sport and feeling part of a team. We outlined the importance of correct fuelling for feeling strong and positive. Finally, we reflected on rest and how this plays a significant part in readiness and mindset.
These five essential components all work together and help us feel positive, confident and ready to take on challenges in our sports. If you are looking for ways to improve your mindset, please consider these and remember, should need team kits, please get in touch.