Developing the mind of a champion athlete is just as important as training physically. To reach your full potential as an athlete, you have to start training your mind. Just as you develop physical skills and techniques, you must learn to develop mental skills. In the world of sports psychology, mental skills include staying relaxed under pressure, being in the present, focusing on what’s important, letting go of mistakes, letting go of bad breaks and failures, handling self-doubts and negative thinking, using visualization for upcoming events, motivating yourself, recognizing mental traps and avoiding them, and developing self-confidence.
These mental skills will be difficult to master if you are not “Emotionally Fit.” Emotional fitness is defined as the state wherein the mind is capable of staying away from negative thoughts and can focus on creative and constructive tasks. Being emotionally fit is the key to success in all aspects of life especially as an athlete. Unresolved, negative emotions can weigh you down and prevent success and drain you of the energy you need to be productive daily and optimize your performance.
So what does this have to do with sports performance? Everything. Ultimately, we want congruence between our logic and emotions. If there is conflict between the two, this will cause problems; if not sooner than definitely later. Our toxic emotions can take over our logic, creating self-doubt, fears and lack of confidence. We want our logic to lead the way with a clear vision and plan to achieve our goals. An “Emotionally Fit Self” supports and feeds our logic with confidence and positive feelings. There are some athletes that use athletics as an escape from their unhealthy environment. These athletes may argue they will lose their “competitive edge” if the negative emotions or anger they harbor is resolved. They believe those negative feelings are fueling them to become a better athlete, stronger mentally, and more competitive. Quite the opposite happens. Over time, the negative emotions take over and pose problems. The negative emotions win and personal problems begin to interfere with their sports performance. Negative toxic emotions take over their logic. A professional golfer (name withheld) is a perfect example of this. He is having a lot of problems with his game, especially his short game. He was trained at a young age to have the mental skills to be a champion and based on his incredible success was “Emotionally Fit.” Or was he? There was a reason and deep-rooted cause for his infidelity and sex addiction that came out in 2010 which led to his demise. This has caused his professional sports career to plummet and most recently he blames his “injuries” on his poor play but I will argue he is not “Emotionally Fit.” His logic tells him he has all the physical ability in the world, but his unresolved negative toxic emotions are wreaking havoc and taking over to the point he cannot perform like he used to .
So you may be asking yourself, “How do I become emotionally fit?” Here is a simple test to see if you are emotionally fit. Answer some of these questions:
- Can I think of the past (as far back as infancy until now) and feel ok?
- Is there a negative emotion associated with some past event that I don’t want to deal with and keep burying?
- Is there something that’s plaguing you and you can’t identify what it is?
- Is there someone I have not forgiven in my life?
- Do I tend to see the glass half empty instead of half full?
- Am I sad much of the time?
- Is my current stress level high?
- Am I easily agitated or angered?
- Am I lacking confidence in my personal life and in my sport?
If you answered yes to any of these questions or you felt an “emotional charge,” then you need some work to resolve and become “Emotionally Fit.” If you do, it will require some work on your part with a professional Psychotherapist or Sports Performance Coach like myself. I have been helping people become emotionally fit for 16 years and have developed a system that will get you where you want to be quickly. I use traditional methods and an alternative cutting edge technique that will get you to a place of resolution. As a result, every aspect of your life will improve. It takes a strong person to resolve and deal with their emotions. Becoming “Emotionally Fit” brings you back to why you play your sport in the first place. For the love of the game!
©Copyright 2015 Paul Cartone, LMHC. All Rights Reserved