Top 5 benefits of mental preparation for youth athletes

May 01, 2018, 5:17 p.m. (ET)

How well athletes perform has much to do with how well they prepare beforehand, both physically and mentally.  While it’s easier to stress the physical aspects of preparation (like dynamic stretching, warming up, and staying hydrated) coaches should not underestimate the impact that good mental preparation can have on athletic performance.

The Benefits of Good Mental Preparation

1) Increased mental toughness: Developing mental toughness allows your athletes to perform at their full potential under pressure, while also remaining calm and being able to bounce back from obstacles and mistakes.

Among many other ways, mental toughness is developed in practice by repeatedly exposing athletes to challenging situations that they might face in a game or competition.

2) Greater goal-getting: Setting goals provides direction for athletes’ training. These goals should focus on both the short and long term, and be attainable yet challenging.

Athletes achieving their personal goals in practice instills great self-confidence in their minds on gameday.

3) Improved focus: Focus refers to your athlete’s ability to concentrate and block out distractions. Strong focus is a form of mental toughness and keeps athletes performing at their best for longer periods of time.

4) Super self-efficacy: Believing in oneself in part means believing in your abilities.

Self-efficacy is entwined with having self-confidence, being prepared for any situation, and having a passion to achieve your goals, all of which can be cultivated with healthy mental preparation.

5) Better work ethic: Nothing great is achieved without hard work. Regardless of your natural gifts and abilities, the work that athletes complete in the gym and in the classroom is paramount to success both in sports and life.  Work ethic is related to perseverance, resilience, and dedication in everything else we do in our lives, both in and outside of sport.

Check out our lesson plan and activities focused toward developing better mental preparation in our Teach section.

About TrueSport

TrueSport® is a grassroots movement born and powered by the experience and values of USADA–the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. The TrueSport® mission is simple and bold: to change the culture of youth sport by providing powerful educational tools to equip young athletes with the resources to build the life skills and core values for lasting success on and off the field.

Interested in learning more? Head over to TrueSport.org for more information and free educational resources on how you can join the TrueSport movement.