Physical training plays an important role in any sport, but mental toughness training for MMA must also be a part of the picture if one wants to reach the top levels of his potential. The body and mind must be keenly connected to excel in sports. Where one’s thoughts go, and what is going on inside one’s head, has everything to do with one’s ability to achieve performance excellence. One must train and strengthen the mind along with the body in order to achieve maximum results.
Top athletes know that mental toughness training develops their ability to keep their self-talk positive. They know that critical or negative internal self-talk must be stopped. Top athletes are able to shut down the internal critic and immediately replace negative images or negative self-talk with positive input. They know to fire off positive statements to themselves to change their state. Phrases such as, “I’m fast,” “I‘m strong,” “I am well able,” “I succeed,” “I am powerful,” are good examples. They know to never dwell or entertain images in their minds of results they do not want to happen. When they catch their thoughts going in a negative direction they bring them back to the positive immediately.
Mental toughness training teaches that having the ability to maintain an intense focus is incredibly important because it helps one achieve higher levels of success. Imagine the difference between a competitor who lacks the ability to concentrate and one who excels at it. Top competitors use various exercises to develop this skill and fine tune their ability to keep their minds task oriented and not allow anything to disrupt their focus. They learn how to stay task focused no matter what. With practice one soon learns to block out mental or external distractions and how to bring themselves back to the present moment where all performance takes place.
Mental toughness training makes all the difference when the idea of continuing forward with physical training just seems too hard, or when one is having an “off” day and feels like throwing in the towel. By using the tools and techniques that sports mental training teaches, the athlete is able to move forward despite the challenges that would cause others to quit. He is able to press forward and succeed because he has developed an ability to persevere and prevail. He has learned how to mentally dominate the situation and control his emotions by applying his training and pushing through barriers understanding that they are mostly mental.
Mental toughness training includes the process of rehearsing for success using imagery and visualization. The inner mind must clearly be shown the success that one desires. By using the minds eye to visualize the desired success and mixing in feelings of having accomplished the goal, the athlete, through repetition, conditions his mind to help move him towards his goals. The key to this type of mental toughness training is repetition, clarity of purpose, and adding feelings of success during the practice sessions.