Mental strength

Mental strength is defined as an innate or acquired psychological advantage that allows an athlete to better manage the numerous demands of the sport he or she practices (competition, training, life discipline) to be able to perform at a higher level. More specifically, it is about being more constant and more adept than one’s opponents at maintaining his or her determination, concentration, self-confidence and control under pressure or in the face of adversity. [21; 22; 45]
The key characteristics of mental strength are:
    • confidence in one’s self and in one’s capacities to achieve a goal
    • concentration
    • motivation
    • dedication and determination
    • strong and positive attitude
    • resilience
    • pressure control
    • quality of preparation

Although several studies claim that athletes with great mental strength are more resilient when confronted with emotionally or physically challenging situations, [21; 22] some coaches deliberately expose young people to such hardships, often pushing the boundaries of ethics, because they think they will thereby help athletes develop their mental strength. [31]
We must, however, exercise caution and vigilance to make sure training environments do not become conducive to physical or emotional abuse [31]. People in a young athlete’s entourage are also less inclined to question the methods used by coaches, a form of normalization which can be attributed to a lack of knowledge regarding the forms of abuse in a sports environment[15; 16; 31]
 Some positive techniques to develop mental strength  Behaviours that constitute a form of abuse and hinder the athlete’s development
    • To develop a positive inner dialogue (e.g. “I feel very fast today!”)
    • To focus on the task at hand
    • To work on techniques that will allow you to better manage your emotions
  • To yell at the athletes
  • To insult or humiliate the athletes
  • To put an athlete aside and constantly pick on that athlete 
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