Today is Toughness Thursday.  What does being tough have to do with athletics?  Well, the concept is quite simple.  It is not about being physically tough as that is only about 10-20% of the idea.  Athletics and sports are made up mostly of being 80% mentally tough.  So, as you read this, you may think to yourself, well sure, I am mentally tough or I don;t quite know what mentally tough means.  To be mentally tough as an athlete, is more then just remembering plays within the context of a game.  Being mentally tough means being able to overcome shortcomings (adversity, turnovers, mistakes etc.) within a game.  Sure, every coach discusses hey that’s ok forget on move on…. that’s great in the grand scheme off things, athletes know that, but in reality, MOST athletes do not know how to DO IT or the HOW TO of releasing and refocusing.  Training your mind is just like training your body.  If you want to by physically tougher, you go into the weight room and focus on lifting.  With mental toughness, you have to train your mind and have a strategy just like you would train your body with weights.  So, ask yourself, how do you train your mind to be mentally tough? Do you have a system?

To become more mentally tough, start by recognizing how you react when you fail, when you make a mistake or when you create a turnover?  When you recognize how you react, you have to release that moment and refocus.  A simple strategy to use in order to refocus is simple.  Find a focal point (could be your shoes, could be a water bottle, could be a wall etc.) look at that focal point, take a deep breathe, say a phrase like I got this or have one word and say it to yourself and then make a physical movement (swipe hand across your chest, snap finger, rub hands together, whatever it is you need to do)  The problem most athletes face with this “type of system” is they do not buy into it.  They think it looks funny to their friends or they feel weird doing it.  If you don’t have a system and you do not practice it routinely, how can you train your mind to be mentally tough?  In all realities in order to release and refocus, you need to have a system, you need to own that system and you need to practice that system.

So, next time you are in a situation where you need to forget about a test, a quiz, a turnover, a loss, a victory or whatever it is, ask yourself if you have practiced your routine on how to refocus and be in the present moment