In this section, with permission, I will be using the work of Tim Goodenough who has worked with top sporting sides such as the Sharks in the super 14, a few other sports teams including the National men’s & women’s hockey team, the Investec Rugby Academy and has published two books on the mental side of performance called ‘In The Zone’ and ‘Raising Talent.’
Training the mind is sorely neglected by most athletes, but with the right practice players will realise that by training the mind properly, the body follows. This is vital if you want to take your rugby or any other sport to the next level.
When we believe someone is better than us, THEY ARE. When you start to think you are not as good as someone else you begin to believe it. As soon as you believe it, you ARE worse than him. When you believe you cannot compete you don’t train as hard because you think there is no point in training because you know you are going lose anyway.
Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right. Henry Ford
Beliefs can act as a ceiling or a floor for performance. Many athletes create their beliefs by looking backwards, “What have I done so far, and so what do I believe that I am capable of doing?” In rugby this is a kind of thinking that can be very common. The danger is that this style creates a very long and shallow development curve, as some ‘luck’ or exceptional circumstance is needed for rugby players to win games they don’t 100% believe they can. This starts the process of ‘stretching’ their beliefs, to shift what they think they are capable of.
Very few athletes look forward to the challenges that they may face, and shift their beliefs to support their goals. Roger Bannister was one such athlete. In May 1954 Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mark for the mile, a record that was considered impossible to beat, with experts and doctors claiming it physiologically could not be done. However once the psychological barrier had been broken by the end of 1957, 16 others runners had run the mile in under 4 minutes.
What happens on match days:
Ask yourself this…How many times have you run onto the field scared? You are so nervous you think you are about to die, you miss tackles and drop the ball as soon as you see someone running in to tackle you.. Then at half time you get shouted at and then realise they actually aren’t that good and so you compete properly and as such your team ‘wins’ the second half by only letting in 1 try… but you’ve lost the match by 50 points or more.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could go into the match confident believing 100% that you ARE better than them, you ARE stronger than them, you ARE smarter than them and you WILL beat them?
To change your mindset does not happen overnight, it takes a while to train your mind, but once you achieve mental toughness NO ONE will be able to touch you. Once you are mentally tough you will lose only when someone outplays and out thinks you, not because you were scared or you gave up. When you are mentally tough and someone outplays you, you are able to bounce back, train harder and then beat them the next time. You leave NOTHING to chance, you make sure you have prepared so well that you are firing on all cylinders. Your opponent just can’t beat you after all the hard work you have put in. That’s a CHAMPION MINDSET.
If you want to feel the exhilaration of winning against teams you thought previously were untouchable then it’s time to TOUGHEN UP!