How the Greats Use Mental Skills
The greatest athletes of all-time mastered the mental side of competition. Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods. Wayne Gretzky. Tom Brady. Lionel Messi. The list goes on and on. The mental skills these athletes practiced accentuated their physical talents, making them the greatest performers in the history of sports.
"I tend to be calm, things tend to slow down, as I go into situations that people don’t know the outcome. I’ve already experienced them in my mind — just playing tricks with myself. So it didn’t seem new to me, and I wasn’t afraid to fail with it. Once I began to understand that, I became a master of the game of basketball." (Source)
Michael Jordan has an incredible aura. The game of basketball came effortlessly to him. He dominated the game on offense and defense. MJ also had a great knack for the big moment. He seemed unfazed in pressure situations and thus delivered some of the most iconic moments in sports.
What is less common knowledge is the mental practice that Michael put in. By understanding the importance of experiencing situations in his mind, he was preparing himself. The game did come naturally to him, but mostly because he had already seen the game happen in his mind.
"In the first few minutes, he just walks across the field. He is looking at each opponent, where the guy positions himself, and how their defense fits together. Only after doing that does he start to play."
Lionel Messi practices mental skills the moment a game starts. This is what helps him appear like a magician on the pitch. As soon as the game begins, he is locked in mentally. He uses the actual game time to mentally study what he wants to do.
His remarkable ball skills and passing ability are world-class, but his mental skills make him one of the greatest players in his sport’s history.
"I feel the mind and body must work together. I believe just as strongly in the importance of mental fitness as I do about physical fitness...I perform cognitive exercises that help me stay sharp and make better split-second decisions on the field...And I strive to keep a positive mental attitude."
Tom Brady just won his 7th Super Bowl at 43 years old. Arm talent aside, the single most significant factor of Tom Brady’s success rests between his ears. His mental ability is what has made him the greatest quarterback of all-time.
He is the most prepared player at the most crucial position. He spends time studying defenses and situations so that he is ready when he faces them in real-time.
The greatest players of all time commit valuable time to their mental skills. You should too.