The Effect of Mental Performance in Sports


Taina Lee, Sports Writer

Professional athletes who perform at the highest levels can be very impressive, specifically their physical abilities. But, do you know what is going on in their minds? Have you thought about their mental performance as well? Most athletes most likely struggle with their mental health and negative thoughts during competition even though it may not seem like it. That is why most professional sports teams or athletes have a mental performance coach to guide them to a successful season. Donovan Martin is a free-lance mental performance coach. In his article, he mentions the “Big Four.” The Big Four is a type of mental performance training that he introduces to athletes and teams. The Big Four includes self-talk, goals, visualization and breathing.  


Self-talk is the most important because this helps athletes and teams maintain peak mental performance by identifying and correcting their personal self-talk. Utah Jazz guard, Donovan Mitchell talks about the three most important words that help him throughout his basketball career. The three words are determination, loyalty and humility. For determination, he talks about how his key phrase is “Being hardworking never comes easy, but as long as you understand that, you’ll be successful.” His next word loyalty is the most powerful to him because it has helped him through the highs and lows of his life. He also explains how he has developed a winning mindset by staying loyal to those who matter the most to him. His last word that pushes him is humility. Donovan talks about how everyone needs to be humble and cherish every moment because we never know when it will all end.  


The next tip for the Big Four is goals and goal setting. Retired Olympian, Usain Bolt, talks about the importance of goal setting and how everyone needs to aim high while setting them. While interviewed, he told the news that “You’ve got to set goals in life, I try to set the highest standard that I can for myself.” By setting healthy goals and managing them productive, athletes can have a strong peak in mental performance.  


Visualization is the third part of the Big Four. Krasnaya Polyana, a Russian Olympic Bobsledder, uses visualization on the Olympic sliding track to help him gain more confidence before an event. He said that the practice of mental stimulation has been essential to his routine. This helps to be mentally prepared in situations where most may be under pressure. It also helps many envision their process in what it takes to become great.  


The last step in the Big Four is breathing. Olympic swimmer Cameron McEvoy, adapted to a breath training program that helps him increase exercise performance and reduce anxiety. His breathing coach, James Fletcher, talks about the positive outcomes of breathing in sports. One of which is more intensity and it causes more blood to go to the muscles which makes an athletes performance become easier. Breathing also impacts mental performance the most because it helps regulate the amygdala, in your brain which is activated when you are under pressure by helping the blood and increasing the blood flow.