90% of performance is mental

In the world of sports many coaches and athletes maintain that reaching optimal performance is 90% mental. Unfortunately, ones mental state or psychological well-being is often neglected in an athlete’s training. The reality is that athletes experience a range of emotions; the excitement and thrill of winning, the agony of losing a game or missing a shot, and everything that comes in between the highs and lows of competition. Certain traits may enhance or impede an athlete’s ability to manage these feelings and perform at an optimal level. Many elite athletes have, in fact, been found to have perfectionistic tendencies and have unattainable standards for themselves. Although high standards can enhance performance, if unreasonably high they can lead to heightened anxiety, being overly critical of oneself, depression and, eventually, burnout. All of these things can interfere in an athlete’s ability to focus and perform. Furthermore, anxiety, low self-esteem, and burnout can lead to self-harming behaviours such as eating disorders, binge drinking, and emotional outbursts. Counselling athletes to manage these emotions more effectively, to be more present, and set more realistic goals/standards, is therefore critical to an athlete’s well-being and, in turn, performing their best.