Pictured above is Andre Ward, super-six boxing world champion. If there is any athlete in sport today that characterizes mental toughness, it’s him! In our three tips for the top, we referenced Manchester United youth coach Eric Harrison’s top tips to becoming a great footballer which in fact can apply to any sport. Here at Unchained Fitness, we enjoy learning from other coaches which is why we refer to Bill Beswick (Manchester United sports psychologist) and his top tips for developing mental toughness.
Mental toughness doesn’t happen overnight, so athlete’s need to develop routines, strategies, a way of living and behaving which all lead to it becoming real. If an athlete can adopt (to some degree) the following steps, they can become mentally tough: 1) develop a strong self-identity by allowing imposing yourself on the situation, taking responsibility for your actions because excuses are the first sign of weakness, keep learning, copy role models to help develop positive behaviours, control your thoughts and keep them positive 2) become and stay motivated a player should understand why he/she commits to the challenge, accepts critique, and manages failure 3) establish a work ethic, a player must be fit to play to compete. A fit player is always more confident, and this confidence links closely to being motivated. A fit and confident athlete is usually much more tough to beat than un unfit player who self-doubts 4) develop self-control, an athlete with mental toughness sees setbacks, injuries, problems, tough opposition etc. as part of the game, and accepts the challenge head on. An athlete with self-control meets these challenges calmly, rationally with high energy and positive emotion.
When Andre Ward sat down with Carl Froch last week in the face to face sit-down before their super-six final world championship fight, Froch tried to destabilize Ward by insisting that he was bigger and stronger. He also told Ward that he couldn’t be knocked out. Ward calmly responded by telling Froch “you can’t control me“, Ward also said that he liked to do his talking in the ring. Ward dominated Froch in the right, scoring a win on all three judges cards (115 – 113, 115 – 113, 118 – 112) and became undisputed world super-middleweight champion.