Just like Navy SEALs are thought to build mental toughness and deal with deadly situations, Olympic athletes also work on boosting their mental state in order to handle the pressure of competition. So, it`s no wonder that they do a lot of the same things.
Here are the 4 secrets to boosting mental toughness, revealed by Navy SEALs and eminent athletes:
1. Talk positively to yourself
Our brains are busier than we think, as they are always active! It is estimated that we say about 300-1000 words to ourselves per minute. Both SEALs and Olympic athletes agree that these words have to be positives.
As one Olympian said,
“Immediately before the race I was thinking about trying to stay on that edge, just letting myself relax, and doing a lot of positive self-talk about what I was going to do. I just felt like we couldn’t do anything wrong. It was just up to us. I said, “There’s nothing that’s affecting us in a negative way, the only thing now is to do it, and we can do it . . . I just have to do my best.”
SEALs use this method to, even in more terrifying circumstances, such as when being underwater.
Remember, when talking to yourself, be an optimist, not a pessimist.
2. Setting Goals
While we hear about this all the time, we rarely do it.
From an Olympian Study:
“The best athletes had clear daily goals. They knew what they wanted to accomplish each day, each workout, each sequence or interval. They were determined to accomplish these goals and focused fully on doing so.”
SEALs are taught to do this as well. While most of their goals are small ones, it is enough to keep the going and don’t give up:
“With goal setting the recruits were taught to set goals in extremely short chunks. For instance, one former Navy Seal discussed how he set goals such as making it to lunch, then dinner.”
3. Practice Visualization
This is very important point, too.
From an Olympian study,
“These athletes had very well developed imagery skills and used them daily. They used imagery to prepare themselves to get what they wanted out of training, to perfect skills within the training sessions, to make technical corrections, to imagine themselves being successful in competition, and to see themselves achieving their ultimate goal.”
SEALs do the same thing! They are thought to visualize themselves in succeeding their activities, which in turn helps them achieve their goal easier.
4. Use Simulations
Visualization is perfect as it can be done whenever and wherever you like, but eventually you must practice as close to the real thing as possible.
From the study of Olympians:
“The best athletes made extensive use of simulation training. They approached training runs, routines, plays, or scrimmages in practice as if they were at the competition, often wearing what they would wear and preparing like they would prepare.”
Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Mike Kenny agreed:
“In Army parlance they say, “train like you fight.” Don’t screw around and say, “Okay, when it’s for real then we’ll really ramp up.” No, you need to do that now. You need to train as hard and as realistic as possible, because this notion that when it’s for real and the stakes are high, that’s when we’ll really turn it on and rise to the occasion… that’s not what happens. You will not rise to the occasion. You will sink to the lowest level of your training. It’s the truth.”