The term mental toughness has become a popular phrase in the sports world and everyone seems to have their own definition of what it means. We have statcast now to measure exit velocity and launch angle. We have stopwatches for measuring pop time and foot speed. Yet, due to the nature of mental toughness itself… it’s hard to measure.
How does one measure heart? Or the ability to deal with adversity and fight back after failure? You can’t. At least not with paper and pencil. But we’ve all seen it and some of us have experienced it.
Each athlete knows what it feels like to play with confidence and what it feels like to play from fear. Athletes are familiar with that negative voice chirping at them as well as have felt that still small voice nudging them towards victory. They know what it’s like to have an unfocused mind pulling in 50 different directions and a majority of athletes have experienced that illusive zone where they’re so absorbed in the moment that everything seems to slow down and become easier.
The big picture mission for each athlete is to silence that negative voice, play with confidence and approach the zone as often as possible in order to play at their peak. If it’s possible to measure these intangibles, how would one do it?
In the strength and conditioning world there’s the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) that visually shows a trainer an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses without him uttering a word.But when it comes to assessing the mind – all answers are subjective. Meaning, they are totally up to the individual athlete to answer honestly. So, measuring mental toughness starts with an athlete willing to be completely honest with himself when answering questions.
What would be the benefit of honestly answering the right questions?
It would give you a tangible way of knowing if the plan you’re currently using to get better is working or not. Here’s what else it gives you:
1. An honest assessment of where you’re at currently
2. It shows you your strengths
3. It reveals you’re areas of improvement (AOI’s)
Knowing your strengths and AOI’s then helps you devise a specific plan with the right tools to improve both of those areas.
Example: An athlete who scores low on concentration might implement a tool called a concentration grid (C-Grid) that challenges the athlete to look for numbers 1-50 in order on a mixed numbers chart as fast as they can.
Once mastered, a progression from this would be to add music in the background to add more distractions, and thus, make the task more difficult with the end goal being to build one’s ability to concentrate amongst distractions which is what sport is all about.
Once the plan is in place and tools have been implemented to help an athlete get the most out of their potential – practice and game application is necessary for progress to be made. Using the example above of the C-Grid, one might share with this athlete that focusing on one pitch at a time is similar to focusing on looking for one number at a time on the concentration grid.
The more the athlete improves at finding a C-Grid number and leaving it behind to discover the next, the better trained he’ll be to focus on this next play and leave the previous play behind, thus, improving concentration for the present moment.
The ultimate goal of measuring anything is to discover a baseline and develop a plan to improve performance. When it comes to the mental game not every athlete is willing to be honest with themselves and assess the areas they feel they can grow.
However, for the athlete who is serious about getting the most out of their potential, a mental strength questionnaire is an opportunity to get one step closer to becoming a complete athlete.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how strong the body is – if the mind is weak the body is weak since the mind tells the body what to do.
If you’re ready to take your mental game to the next level I encourage you to head to RenewedMindPerformance.com and in 2 minutes you’ll know where your mental game stands. Then I’ll send you a FREE downloadable PDF to help you grow in several areas of the mental game including: understanding your identity, knowing what you really want to achieve in your career, how to build present moment focus and how to control your mental energy tank, to name a few. Having the answers to these will absolutely give you the greatest chance of achieving your potential in sport and life.