Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Importance of Mental Training

Today is a gloomy day here in Nova Scotia.  The winds are high, the rain is hard, and it is chilly outside (a mere 13 degrees Celcius).  Saturday is the summer solstice and thus the longest day of the year and today feels like depressing!

The view outside my desk window
On my ever-growing to-do list is "Prepare proposal for training junior curlers".  Today was the day that that bad boy was getting crossed off!!!  My proposal centers around off-ice physical and mental training.  There are not a lot of group training programs that concentrate on the mental aspect and that is where the niche is.

What I have come to realize is that I have not mentally prepared for my own training as well as I should.  Notice the 3 levels of mental training below:

Level 1 - People Skills, Goals & Commitment, Motivation, and Attitude
Level 2 - Mental Imagery & Self Talk
Level 3 - Concentration, Managing Emotions, Managing Anxiety

I've got the first level 90% down pat...the other two need work.  It's always easier to train others than to stick to my own plan.

It's so easy to track and quantify our physical improvements by looking at our times or feeling our strength and skill level improving.  Measuring our mental strength is a different beast.  How do we track how well our concentration and self talk is from one day to the next?  We all know that any sport requires mental toughness...those last miles on the road or in the pool are difficult at the best of times.  What happens when things don't go our way?  I learned a while ago to always have a plan A, B, and C when racing. 

Plan A - things are going perfect...the weather, the music, the crowds, and all the stars align to deliver the best situation.

Plan B - the weather isn't perfect...but things are good

Plan C - epic fail - but I'm going to finish and be proud!

Mental training is not a substitute for practive and other training, it is meant to be supplemental.  However, how many of us spend just as much time mentally preparing for our races and competitions as we do the physical aspect?  Not I!  And I know I'm not an elite athlete, and far from it, but mental strength helps us in all facits of life, not just in our races.  It's time to start working on my self talk, concentration, and mental imagery.
How often do you concentrate on your mental strength?


  1. I have found that becoming mentally tough is sooo worth it, but it's hard to do. I know that practicing mantras and stuff is supposed to help, but the thing that has made me the most mentally strong is when I get through something that's PHYSICALLY difficult and then I realize I could do it all along!

    1. That's a great point Ali...sometimes we just need to get out there and do it!

  2. Mental training is a daily challenge for me, I have always have to be mindful of it. Awesome post! :-)

    On another note, I nominated you for the very inspiring blogger award, should you choose to accept this award, check out my post and happy blogging! <3

    1. Thanks so much Kimmie....that just made my day! And yes...mental training - even negative talk - is a daily challenge for me as well. We beat ourselves up and would never think of doing it to anyone else!

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