Physical Activity

3 Quick Mental Preparation Practices for Athletes

  • Do not fall into the habit of walking in the gym and jumping right into the warm-up without doing any mental preparation.
  • Don’t chat with others about their plan and their goals until you’ve run through your own mental prep.
  • Don’t even think about looking at the scoreboard or leaderboard without first considering your own focus areas, goals and purpose.

See, most people will do those things and you don’t want to be most people, do you? You want to be more confident, motivated and mentally strong…right? That’s why you’re on this site, reading this. So, before you talk to others about the WOD, before you check out the scores and before you get going with the workout, take a few minutes to do some mental prep.

In this post, I’ll give you a few ways to do mental prep that will take you five minutes or less. As a coach that’s been doing this a long ass time, I believe this is just as important as any physical prep or even more important.

Mental prep can be defined as training your mind for a successful performance. It can include practices like visualization, focused breathing, prayer or self-talk. The key is to create a habit of doing specific things that help you feel more mentally ready to take on what’s in front of you.

3 Quick Mental Preparation Practices

1. Five minutes of a breathing practice (square breathing, 1-2 breathing, diaphragmatic breathing or 20-rep breathing) — Tuning into your breath is a way to focus your attention on something rhythmic that you can control. It helps train your focus and can often help you feel more calm and aware.

2. Three to five minutes of writing down your specific focus and goals for the session/workout — Jot down why you’re there, what you want out of it, any specific movement cues/reminders for that WOD and any specific words, quotes or practices that you know will help you push when the going gets tough. You can do this very quickly , with your notepad app, on a whiteboard or on a piece of paper. You can check out more about how to do this here.

3. Three to five minutes of thinking through all that you have to be grateful for. There will be days that your body is aching, you have a plethora of things you’re stressing over, you don’t like the workout or someone is just annoying the hell out of you. No matter what is going on, you can always improve your mentality by thinking through all the things you can do, the blessings you do have, the things that are going right, the people who you love, the basic needs that are being met, the opportunities you have, etc.

Of course, you’ll want to get your body physically prepared too but I suggest that you do at least one of the above options before you start your training, event or game. You can continue to build on your prep routine to find what works best for you. Meditating, visualizing, talking with a coach, repeating mantras, reading or watching inspirational videos can all be helpful too. When you take the time to get your mind ready, you’ll find it easier to perform like you’re capable of performing.

I’ve recorded 11 MP3s that walk you through “mental prep” and made it simple for you! You can listen to them before a WOD, after it or any other time during the day to help you get calm, confident and focused. Each recording is about five minutes, and all you have to do is push play and follow along! Here they are.