Nov 15, 2017 • 3 min read
Which is more important for a young athlete: The body, or the mind?
Whenever I ask this question to coaches and athletes, most tell me that the mental side of sports is just as important, if not more important, than the physical side. The funny thing is, when I ask those same coaches and athletes how much time they devote to mental preparation, they invariably say something to the effect of, “Not much at all.”
Why is that? Let’s start by considering what makes physical training effective, then let’s compare that to the use of mental training in sports today. Three key elements come to mind.
Using these three criteria–a comprehensive, structured and consistent program–it’s pretty obvious that the mental side of sports isn’t getting the attention it is due. Based on my experience and feedback I have gotten from athletes, coaches and parents around the country, most exposure that most U.S. athletes have to sport psychology lacks these three criteria. And therein lies the problem.
Therefore, we should take a page out of physical training’s book. When we talk about mental toughness training, we should make sure it is consistent, structured and comprehensive. Only then will sports psychology, at long last, stand as equal partners with physical conditioning and technical training.
Dr. Jim Taylor is an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of performance in business, sport, and parenting. Dr. Taylor has been a consultant for the United States and Japanese Ski Teams, the United States Tennis Association, and USA Triathlon, and has worked with professional and world-class athletes in tennis, skiing, cycling, triathlon, track and field, swimming, football, golf, baseball, and many other sports. See more of his blogs at www.drjimtaylor.com.