Preparing for Battle: Get Your Head Straight

Ever heard of Mental Skills Training? If not, prepare for an information heavy, but critically necessary lesson. If you have competed, want to compete, are going to compete, this is a must. People often overlook mental training when it comes to preparing for an event. We focus too much on the physical and forget to put our heads right.

Sport psychologists around the world all agree that MST is a necessary aspect of improving athlete performance. I’ll be walking you through some of the most important aspects of a winning athlete’s mentality in this article. There are nine important aspects to mental preparation, and they are further broken down into three groups.

We’ll walk through all nine aspects, and what they truly entail. Self-reflect honestly and see just how mentally prepared, or unprepared you might be. Then fix it. There is a general assumption that mental skills such as these cannot be learned. This however, is false. Not only can these skills be developed, it is imperative to do so.

Here are the nine mental traits of a successful athlete:

  1. Attitude
    1. Attitude is a choice
    2. Choose a predominately positive one
    3. View your sport as an opportunity to learn from yourself
    4. Pursue excellence instead of perfection
    5. Maintain balance between sport and life
    6. Respect your sport, competitors, officials, etc.
  2. Motivation
    1. Aware of rewards/benefits that come from competition
    2. Able to persist through difficult tasks and experiences even when benefits are not immediately observable
    3. Recognize that many benefits come from participation as opposed to outcome
  3. Goals and Commitment
    1. Set long and short term that are realistic and time-oriented
    2. Aware of current performance levels and are able to develop specific, detailed plans for achieving improvement goals
    3. Highly committed to goals and endure the demands of meeting those goals
  4. People Skills
    1. Realize they’re part of a larger system that includes family, friends, teammates, etc.
    2. Communicate thoughts, needs, feelings, etc.; able to listen to others do the same
    3. Effective in dealing with conflict, rude opponents, or other negative influences
  5. Self-Talk
    1. Maintain confidence with positive self-talk
    2. Treat themselves as they would treat a best friend
    3. Use self-talk to regulate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during competition
  6. Mental Imagery
    1. Prepare for competition by envisioning themselves performing well in competition
    2. Create/use detailed, realistic, specific images
    3. Use imagery during competition to prepare for action, recover from errors or poor performance
  7. Dealing Effectively with Anxiety
    1. Accept that anxiety is part of competition
    2. Realize that some degree of anxiety can enhance performance
    3. Know how to reduce anxiety (without losing intensity) when it becomes strong
  8. Dealing Effectively with Emotions
    1. Accept strong emotions like excitement, anger, and disappointment as part of the process/experience
    2. Able to use these emotions to improve, rather than to become hindered by them
  9. Concentration
    1. Know what to pay attention to during competition
    2. Able to maintain focus and resist distractions from environment or from themselves
    3. Able to quickly regain lost focus
    4. Have learned to “play in the here-and-now” with no regard to past or anticipated events

It may seem overwhelming, but in reality it isn’t. These are fairly simple steps that can easily be followed to improve your Jiu-Jitsu game. If you want to be at the top of your game, then you can NOT neglect any of the above nine traits. Get your mind set, and go win.


*Here are the sources where this information was gathered from: |


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