The Importance of Mental Strength
It is really easy to solely focus on the physical element of sports; however, there is so much more that goes into being a successful athlete.
After my freshman year of college, my coaches recommended some summer reading to my teammates and I about mental strength. My college volleyball team places a lot of importance on a balance between physical skill and mental strength. At such an academically rigorous college, it is very easy to lose sight of self care and mental health. Being an athlete on top of everything takes away even more time to evaluate and reflect on our mental states. Recommending these books was a way to further our connection with our mental toughness as we learned more about how critical mentality is in the world of sports. Throughout that summer, I read 5 books and I am going to recommend my top 2 to those interested in learning about how certain mentalities ultimately affect the success of athletes.
Up first is Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack and David Casstevens. Mack and Casstevens explain how your mindset ultimately impacts your athletic performance as much, if not more, than your physical skill. The authors offer a variety of lessons and exercises to build mental “muscle.” They stress the importance of self-confidence and believing in yourself as the foundation of success as an athlete.
I absolutely loved this book. There are many inspirational stories from athletes and coaches that really hit home for me. Throughout my athletic career, I always prioritized physical strength and skill, but this book opened my eyes to the importance of mental strength. The lessons I learned throughout the book truly resonated with me as an athlete in such a competitive D3 conference.
The second book that is such an influential read is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown. Brown focuses on a topic often overlooked: the uncertainty and risk of openly being vulnerable, or as she refers to it, “daring greatly.” Through her conducted research, Brown discusses the myth that vulnerability is a sign of weakness and instead argues that vulnerability is a sign of strength.
This book was truly eye-opening. Struggling with vulnerability is something that is really hard to admit yet Brown presents her arguments in such a relatable way. Brown digs into the deep issues surrounding vulnerability and offers real solutions. She does a remarkable job explaining what is happening on the inside and why we think, feel, and behave certain ways.
Prior to reading these books, I had never really been into self-help books. To be completely honest, I always thought the idea of them was a bit silly. When my coaches suggested that our team spend some time throughout the summer getting in touch with our mental state with these books, I gave them a try with an open mind and I am so thankful I did. It is really easy to solely focus on the physical element of sports; however, there is so much more that goes into being a successful athlete. The lessons in these books can even be applied to non-athletes. I find myself applying the things I have learned in my everyday life.