In all physical sports out there athletes have to pay attention to three key elements if they want to succeed: technical, physical and mental. I didn’t place them in any particular order here as in my personal opinion I think they are all equally important in terms of reaching success. While in team sports the mental game may be a bit easier since you’ve got a lot of teammates on the field to support you and cheer you up, in martial arts it is a bit different.
When you are facing an opponent mental toughness may sometimes play an even more important role than your technical knowledge, practice and strength. This is why I have put together this list of some tips that can help you improve your mental game and develop that warrior state of mind.
Don’t Make Promises you can’t Keep
If you want to improve your mental game in any discipline you definitely have to have the will and energy to see the things through. Broken promises sting the most if they are the ones that we have promised to ourselves. This is why you need to make a commitment and set many goals so that you can track your progress.
There will be days when you will feel down, when training will be the last thing on your mind. But if you made a commitment it will be much easier for you to endure this challenges and stick to your regime. This is why here at Integrated Combat Centre in Sydney, we try to help everyone who wants to enter the world of martial arts by providing a fun, safe, friendly and supportive environment.
Imagine Yourself Winning/Losing
This is very important step on your road to becoming a mental strongman. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Think about all the countless hours spent in the gym and on the mat, training, practicing, pouring sweat like crazy, being in pain. By increasing your level of self-confidence it will be much easier for you to imagine yourself winning. If you pull this off, and manage to win in your head, there is a much greater chance that you will too in a real situation.
On the other hand, be ready to lose, because it is also a real possibility. Imagine yourself in such a situation. Martial arts fighters take a lot of pride in what they are doing. That’s completely normal. But that mindset is what can lead to giving in or giving up after losing a match or not making any progress during training. Realizing that losing is part of the game can open up your mind for the life outside of your martial art and can also help you identify your weaknesses.
Squeeze Unrelated Thoughts Out
To be able to make serious progress while training and give your best during matches you have to empty your mind and have an incredibly sharp mental focus. The only thoughts that count are the ones that are closely related to your training. Training your body while neglecting your brain won’t get you anywhere. Tomorrow, while you are in a professional competition setting there will be a lot of things going around you, but you need to be able to clearly see your opponent and your thoughts.
This is why learning how to center yourself, no matter what is going on around you, is as important as any technique, workout or cardio. The technique that is really helpful in achieving progress and keeping your focus at all times is visualization. This psychological technique is very powerful and it consists of a person imagining him/herself at their best. This can be applied to various situations, for instance, excelling in situations where your weaknesses are most exposed, escaping a grappling move etc.
As you can see, working on your mental game is something that takes time and effort, just like learning martial arts techniques and building up strength. Fortunately, sports psychology is not a new field and there are many experts in the field that are both active bloggers and have a strong social media presence. So if you want to expand your knowledge on this topic, feel free to look up a few experts online and find a few useful books.