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5 Ways to become more MENTALLY TOUGH

"Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes." Chinese Proverb

Mental toughness means  backbone, daring, determination, fortitude, guts, mettle, moxie, nerve, perseverance, resolution, spirit, tenacity, toughness. It is  is the ability to persevere in pursuit of a goal; no matter how long it takes.

Here are five ways to become more mentally tough on and off the court.

1. Do the hard things first. Pick your weakest spot and work on it first every practice. Choose the weight lifting exercise you like least and do it right away. Pick the subject you need the most work in and always start with it. If you wait, chances are you won’t want to work on your weakness or you will not give it your best effort. When we choose the hard things in life we develop mental toughness and life becomes easier. When we always choose the easiest we get weaker.

2. Be specific. If you want to work on upper body strength, write down the specific number of push-ups you will do. Counting backwards can help motivate you to finish. When working on math, pick a time limit and the number of problems you want to get finished in that time limit. For shooting, decide how many shots you will make in a row from different spots on the court, if you miss more than two shots in a row, sprint dribble down and back with the off-hand.  Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can see them everyday. 

Be accountable.  Whether you are working on your game, your attitude, or your grades have someone hold you accountable in areas you are likely to give up and not work on. Choose someone you can work together with or someone who is a mentor who can help teach you how to develop mental toughness.  For example, in ball handling, compete against a good player for the highest score, then whoever loses does one push-up. Make a goal to encourage each other and pick someone who will motivate you to keep going.

4. Deal with problems. When life is hard we want comfort not change, but those who have learned the secret of being mentally tough have learned comfort now can mean pain later, whereas a little pain now can yield a big reward in the future. We know we are not choosing the right way to handle our problems when we look for comfort in ignoring the problem, becoming bitter, using gossip, or simply by trying to escape. We need to learn to open up with a trusted parent or adult. We need to learn to talk to people not about them. We need to address problems with courage and kindness before becoming bitter and resentful. Every time we run away from our problems, more problems follow. The minute we decide to deal with problems we become more mentally tough and better able to handle problems in the future.

5. Guard your thoughts. The reason why it's called mental toughness is because what you think determines how you act. If you want to become more mentally tough, you have to become tough about what you think. Certain thoughts should never be in your head. Replace weak thoughts like, “I can’t, I’m tired, I’m bored, “ with strong thoughts. An athlete training for basketball season didn't like to run. The first time around the track for a conditioning run left her feeling exhausted. Her mentor asked what she was thinking as she ran around the track. "I hate running. This is awful. I want to stop." She admitted. The next time around the track, her mentor asked her to change what she said in her head to, “I love to run, my body is strong, I feel great.” The second time around she ended with a huge smile. She said, “I had no idea how big a difference what I thought made on what I do and how I feel. Even though I didn't think it would work, it did. I felt great .”

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