How to Develop Mental Athletic Awareness

As a CrossFitter, you can probably name your deadlift PR, Fran time and max unbroken handstand walk if you were asked. If you play sports or compete in any other events, you can probably list your personal records, athletic achievements, best games and numbers from training. See, the more you know yourself, the easier it is to perform in a flow state. You’ll be able to make effective adjustments on the fly. You’ll find it easier to push your limits and stay motivated. You’ll have a stronger understanding of what’s possible and how to set yourself up for success.

Developing athletic awareness involves understanding yourself as an athlete, both physically and mentally. But most people don’t even consider the mental part because they’re hyper-focused on outcome, score, numbers, percentages, records and placement. Let’s make sure that you also develop a clear understanding of your mental abilities and habits as well.

The most well-rounded athletes understand their thought patterns and can quickly answer questions about their mental performance. Do you think that some people are just optimistic and some are negative? Do you think that you either have confidence or you don’t? Do you see amazing athletes and assume that they don’t have fear, doubt or worries like you do?

Here’s the thing: We are all capable of improving our outlook and thought patterns to live a better life. But also, we can all fall into unhelpful, unhealthy beliefs or attitudes. We can all learn, grow and change if we are willing to. The key is building awareness and then practicing new habits and thought patterns that help you.

Do you know if you’d prefer more of an internal or external focus style during your warm-up time?

Do you know how to switch your focus from the outcome to a process goal?

Do you know what your mental gaps are and how to fix them?

Do you know what thoughts help you keep pushing when the going gets tough?

Are you aware of what restricts your confidence or why you don’t perform like you want to on game day?

There are many other questions I could ask you to see if you have developed awareness about your mentality. For now, here are some quick tips and an instant download to help you improve.

How to Develop Mental Athletic Awareness

  1. Understand how you respond to stress and frustration — Learn how you typically respond to challenge and discomfort.
  2. Get feedback — Ask others for input, suggestions and coaching that will help you gain perspective.
  3. Look for patterns — Become aware of thought patterns or habits you use that are unhelpful.
  4. Learn what helps — Know what helps you become calm, centered, focused and persistent.
  5. Know your triggers — Understand what pisses you off, upsets you or causes you to get frustrated and why.
  6. Find purpose — Gain knowledge about why you do things and why you avoid certain things. Know your reasons for your actions.

The first step of improving your mentality is becoming more aware of your thoughts and behaviors. Then, if you want to improve at something, you must practice it. You don’t just get it automatically or keep it forever without working on it. Your mentality is made up of many factors and you can continue to feel more focused, adaptable and prepared when you practice strategies that help you. 

If you continue to learn and practice then you can and will overcome. The better your mental game, the better you’ll perform. Visit to download the 100 Journal Prompts for Athletes.