Most athletes play well when they are happy, positive, and relaxed — but how they respond to adversity is the difference between good and great. The degree of mental toughness (or lack thereof) will ultimately determine whether an athlete is truly special, or simply a person with great athletic potential.
The difference between good and great athletes is a lack of real belief in their own ability and knowing that they can win or compete at the level they desire. Athletes who lack real belief in themselves creates fear which causes a variety of problems before competition such as:

  • A deep inner feeling of not being good enough
  • Extreme nervousness (which sometimes manifests as vomiting)
  • Negative thoughts of all types
  • Low energy
  • Worrying about small details which may never occur
  • Intimidation from other competitors
  • Unusual or silly mistakes during the event
  • Feelings of dreadfulness about the upcoming event
  • Jealousy of other athletes

The best way to create belief in yourself and your own ability is to visualize every day for five minutes or a few minutes vividly imaging the perfect outcome. It helps program your subconscious mind for success, like a computer.

“When you visualize a race in your mind,” Townsend tells swimmers, “Use all your senses – imagine seeing the swimmers, the pool and surroundings in their respective colors, smell the chlorine of the pool, hear the sounds of people cheering you, and most of all – feel the joy of victory when you win the race or swim that time you desired. If you do this every day for around 5 minutes, you will gradually notice a shift in your confidence levels before races, and your times will begin to steadily come down.”

The benefits of visualizing everyday will help anyone:

  • Overcome extreme nervousness
  • Reduce and erase pain
  • Learn new skills more easily and quickly
  • Overcome major intimidation from a competitor
  • Increase your energy
  • Relax more easily
  • Increase speed / reduce times
  • Banish negativity, and sustain positive attitude
  • Recover from illness and injuries more quickly