One of The Perfect Method’s areas of focus is mental preparation. All serious athletes work on their technical skills and prepare their bodies with diet and exercise, but when the time comes to compete it is often the athlete’s Mental Edge– their level of focus, discipline, confidence and awareness- that determines whether they win, make first, or consistently perform at their best.
But does a strong Mental Edge go beyond winning in a given sport and have a positive effect in other areas of an athlete’s life? Of course it does. Students, business professionals, and athletes alike are more successful when they have a strong, well-developed Mental Edge.
One of the tools that The Perfect Method uses to help athletes understand and grow their own Mental Edge is the Athlete’s Mental Edge assessment, or the AME for short. The AME provides feedback to athletes in four areas: focus, discipline, confidence, and leadership. The feedback from the AME not only helps the athlete prepare for competition, but it also improves how they approach their studies, their social interactions and later, their professional life (whether it involves sport or not).
Let’s break it down a bit.
On the track, the ability to focus is crucial. Runners must train their minds to tune everything out- the audience cheering, the competitor in the lane next to them, all of the other things going on in their lives- and be present in the moment, completely in tune with their body, their mind, and what they need to do to make it to the finish line the fastest. In everyday life, focus works in a similar way. If you’re a student, think about having a task in front of you. It could be listening to a lecture, completing an assignment or even researching for a term paper. The ability to concentrate – to tune out the chatter of other classmates or thoughts about life circumstances that don’t apply directly to the task at hand – is crucial in these situations. Coaches and other working professionals can also identify with situations when focus – or lack of it – has made the difference in how quickly and how well they’ve completed a task.
Much like focus, discipline is a necessary trait for champion athletes, successful students and working professionals. For a runner, discipline means having a training schedule and sticking to it. But a well-disciplined runner also knows when it’s time to train and when it’s not. They will stick to their plan, but they will also know how to listen to their body so they don’t over-work themselves. Conversely, an athlete that isn’t disciplined may take a day off when they are still able to train. Or, if an athlete is extremely competitive but not disciplined, they may push themselves too hard and train on a day when they should give their body a break. These same concepts apply to students and professionals. You can probably recall a time when you or somebody you know skipped class or took a day off simply to relax when there wasn’t a need. Or maybe you’ve seen the other way around where you or someone you know shows up to work or school while they are sick when they should have stayed at home to recover.
Confidence is another component of an athlete’s Mental Edge that stretches far beyond their competitive performance. Of course confidence overrides doubt, which for a runner means trusting their body, not hesitating, and knowing that their practice and prior competitions have prepared them for the present moment. Confidence plays a similar role at school or work. For students, it’s easy to second guess a decision, whether it’s the answer to a test problem or even what they want to study in college. Yes, it’s important for students to think critically when it comes to a big decision, but sometimes over-analysis can be paralyzing, making it difficult to make any decision at all. Much like on the track, confidence keeps students moving forward toward a goal or an objective without being overcome with doubt.
For athletes, the ability to lead may not seem as important as the ability to focus, stick to a training schedule or even feel confident in one’s decisions. But leadership will keep an athlete set on winning, which for runners may deliver the final push that lets them take home a gold medal. And often, athletes that develop their strength for leadership go on to be some of the world’s best coaches. But generally, athletes who have a strong leadership mentality tend to be more successful, will have a positive impact on their friends and be comfortable saying no in uncomfortable social situations. Conversely, students and athletes that are not strong leaders may feel the need to let others win or may easily give into peer pressure.
People aren’t born champion athletes or valedictorians or CEOs. But they all have traits in common in terms of focus, discipline, confidence and leadership. It’s important to remember that these traits are heavily influenced by environment, coaching, and training. Just like learning the technical skills, developing the Mental Edge takes study and practice, and a lot of work. There are patterns to understand and follow, conscious choices, then practice and time. Be patient as you develop the solid habits that give you the Mental Edge.
To begin taking lessons on the Mental Edge, or take the AME, become of member of The Perfect Method. We want to help you become your best.