Mentality Is Everything
You would be hard pressed to find a professional athlete or high-level coach that doesn’t recognize the importance of mentality in sports. Michael Jordan,Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal all credit mindset coaching for some oftheir biggest successes.
Mentality Is Everything
How to up your mindset game and reach peak performance
You would be hard pressed to find a professional athlete or high-level coach that doesn’t recognize the importance of mentality in sports.
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal all credit mindset coaching for some of their biggest successes.
NFL legend Tom Brady has used year round mental training to sustain peak performance in one of the most illustrious football careers of all time.
Arguably one of the best Olympians of all time, Michael Phelps used a highly developed visualization technique to maintain the mentality needed to win throughout his swim career.
Whatever you call it—mindset, mentality, focus, drive, motivation, mental toughness—there are mental aspects to every sport that contribute to success just as much as raw talent, physical ability, and training.
If you want to reach an elite level in sports, mental training is non-negotiable.
The problem is, learning the mentality required to succeed is no simple matter…
Research shows that confusion about how to implement mindset and mentality training is one of the biggest barriers to athletes getting the support they need.
While we can’t change the state of play amongst sports psychologists and athletic trainers, we can give you access to some actionable strategies you can use to develop a winning mentality.
Mentality Masterclass With Adam Wainwright
Adam Wainwright, or “Waino”, made his MLB debut in 2005. After spending his first season as a relief pitcher, he has been a starter for the Cardinals almost every year since.
Waino has a long list of achievements, just some of which include:
- Leading the league multiple times in wins, innings pitched, and games started
- Multiple top-ten finishes in earned run average, strikeouts, walks and hits per inning, and completed games
- In 2014, Wainwright became the first pitcher in MLB history to post nine of his first 18 starts with seven innings pitched and no runs allowed.
- Waino has won more than 150 games, three all-star selections, two golden glove awards, and the Roberto Clemente Award in 2020.
Perhaps most impressive, is the fact that he has maintained this elite level of performance for over 15 years.
There has been talk of Waino retiring, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down…
Statistically, 2021 was one of his best seasons. And at 40 years of age, he’s just signed a $17.5 million deal with the Cardinals for the 2022 season.
When it comes to teaching about mentality, there aren’t many competitors out there more qualified than Adam Wainwright.
We teamed up with Waino to record an exclusive video masterclass covering everything you need to know about developing a winning mentality.
To get the full video, head over to Versus.co to sign up. This masterclass, plus heaps of others from elite athletes at the top of the game are included in a subscription.
We don’t want anyone to miss out though, so keep reading for a summary of Waino’s top tips for building the mentality needed for success.
Note—we’ve kept the examples Waino has given specific to baseball, but these mindset tips apply to any sport. We will start each section with a quote from the video, then a brief explainer with practical advice.
Master Body Language
“Body language is one of the most important things a pitcher can do on the mound, besides actually throwing the ball”.
On the field, it’s a physical battle no doubt, but you’re also going head to head mentally.
Waino explains how what you bring to the mound (or the plate), can have a huge impact on how your opponent approaches the next play. Every action you make is signaling to your opponent how you are feeling, and either boosting or bringing down their confidence.
Waino’s top tip—no matter how you’re feeling, never show your opponent anything other than confidence and composure. To do this, you have to manage every one of your bodily movements intentionally. From how you use your feet, to how you catch the ball, to your facial expression. It all matters…a lot.
“Understand that the way we talk to ourselves influences who we become”.
Waino tells an impactful story about how a sports psychologist helped him realize how his negative self-talk was impacting his performance.
What we think about, and tell ourselves internally, tends to play out in the real world. Telling yourself all game, all season, all year, that you're a screw-up and not cut out for the big leagues, will only increase the chances of that happening.
Waino’s top tip—use encouraging words to lead into your next success, not to dwell on failure.
Don’t Limit Your Abilities
“Understand that if you place (mental) limitations on your abilities, there’s going to be limitations on your abilities”.
This is one of the most impactful sections of the video.
Waino explains how changing internal beliefs about yourself and your abilities can take you to newer heights never thought possible. Put simply, if you don’t believe that you have the ability to perform, you won’t, no matter how good your training and prep is.
He also runs through the danger of believing in “hot streaks”, plus gives you the tools to maintain peak performance throughout the season.
Waino’s top tip—when you step out onto the field, you can’t change the physical prep you have done. Embody the belief that you have done the necessary work to win, then get after it!
Develop A Consistent Mindset
“Baseball is a game that is more mentally taxing than physically taxing”.
This is true for many sports.
Physical exhaustion is rarely the reason elite athletes burn out. They know the prep required to compete at the highest level and make sure to attend to that in training. What athletes don’t tend to prep for adequately (and then pay the price), is emotional stress.
Discussing how no one can sustain extreme emotional highs and lows all season, Waino breaks down just how he managed to develop a consistent mindset, which was then reflected in more consistent performance.
Waino’s top tip—be aware that emotional energy is a finite resource. No one can sustain being fired up, angry, or upset all season. Consistent performance requires a consistent mindset. Each athlete has to take the time to learn how to do this.
“You can’t take off one pitch”.
Reaching an elite level requires intense focus. Even once you get there, losing focus for just a moment can cost you a play, the game, even your job…
Every point Waino covers in his masterclass leads up to this final strategy.
Without the first four techniques dialed in, it’s going to be near on impossible to sustain the focus and mentality that is required to achieve your full potential.
Waino’s top tip—Focus is about the little things. They all matter. Understand that if you really want to be great, your mind has to stay clocked in at all times.
Building the Mentality for Success
Now for the best thing about mentality—it can be learned.
The mentality for success isn’t something people either have or they don’t. It’s something that is built, developed, and maintained. Day after day.
Dig deeper into any world-class performer, and you will find that all of them spend tons of time working on their mentality. Most have a mindset coach, plus do personal training and development as well.
The key to building the mentality for success is finding the right people to learn from. While a personal mindset coach might be out of reach, there are other options…
Adam Wainwright’s mindset masterclass is just one of the ways you can learn about mentality with Versus.
We’ve covered Waino’s expert advice from his video as best as we can in this article, but words really don’t do it justice.
To get the full experience, head over to Versus subscription page and check out the options to subscribe. You’ll get access to Waino’s full video, plus loads of other exclusive content!
- Preparation and Focus
- How to Turn Adversity into Opportunity
- How Knowing Your Players Promotes Success
- The Power of Routines
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