How do You Define Mental Toughness?
The University of Alabama gymnastics head coach Dana Duckworth has set out to become the gold standard in mental toughness.
Duckworth took over the helm at Alabama in 2015 from Sarah Patterson who coached the Crimson Tide for 36 years. Patterson had a successful reign with six NCAA Champion titles, eight SEC Champion titles and 29 NCAA Regional Champion titles.
The Crimson Tide won the SEC championship but finished fourth at the NCAA regional championship.
In order to further the Alabama legacy, Duckworth has sought for the team to develop true mental toughness (TMT).
For Duckworth, mental toughness is all about the decisions her gymnasts make on a day-to-day basis.
Mental toughness is forged in each moment, each action and each decision during the course of each training session.
If you go about your training with a mental toughness approach, you are more apt to respond to adverse competitive situations with mental toughness. That is the reason the Crimson Tide consistently practices performing under pressure.
DUCKWORTH: “TMT is action, execution and what we practice in the gym every day. What the outcome of all that is living the legacy.”
Each Alabama gymnast has chosen her own definition of mental toughness, some that have personal meaning.
Senior Keely McNeer said, “We’re just really embracing that idea (of TMT) and each team member holds others accountable for training their mental toughness during practice.”
Junior Kiana Winston defines TMT as being focused at all times, blocking out potential distractions, being prepared for anything that could happen and having a backup plan when adversity hits.
McNeer defines mental toughness in terms of trusting her training, focusing in the present and constantly pushing forward.
McNEER: “No matter what is going on around you, (mental toughness) is just sticking to the plan and executing it to the best of your ability every day.”
Do you consider yourself mentally tough?
Are you able to rise above adversity or do tough circumstances take you out of your game?
The main reason some athletes are not mentally tough is that they do nothing to grow that mental strength.
If you don’t address mental toughness, nothing changes. There is no magical spell that can make you mentally tough.
Mental toughness requires that you apply mental game strategies each and every training session!
Start with a strategic mental toughness plan then execute that plan. Eventually you will see your mental toughness grow.
Strategy for developing your own brand of mental toughness:
Step #1: How do you define mental toughness? Come up with a definition of mental toughness that has personal significance. What elements would it include? What would it look like during practices and competitions?
Step #2: How can you train yourself to develop this personal and meaningful mental toughness in your daily practice? How will you replicate pressure in practice? How will you evaluate your progress?
Step #3: Who will keep you accountable? Find a qualified mental game coach. Are you willing to open up to feedback about your mental game? Are you willing to apply what you learn to your practice and meets?
Take action and do something to develop your very own brand of mental toughness.
Learn all of my secrets to improving your gymnastics mental toughness here!
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