The Benefits of Mental Skills Training for Competition by Gustavo Dantas


The Benefits of Mental Skills Training for Competition

 by Gustavo Dantas, Nova Uniao USA President

Competition analysis is very important for athletes. By re-evaluating their performances after a tournament, regardless of a win or loss, athletes are able to identify positive aspects, so they can continue to do what is working, or identify the negative aspects, locate the source of the problem, and start the process of finding the solution. Very often, competitors focus on three basic aspects of their performance: the technical, the strategic and the physical, but there is a fourth aspect that is often overlooked, which is equally important if not more important than the others: the mental.

Mental preparation is widely underestimated. Athletes have the feeling that they need “more cardio”, or to drill more, buy more instructional DVD’s, and invest in private classes. These can absolutely help, but the reality is that good physical, technical, and strategic training must be accompanied by good mental training. The best Jiu-Jitsu competitor of all time, Roger Gracie, stated to reporter Deb Blythe during his preparation for the 2010 Worlds: “I feel comfortable in any position, top or bottom, but my mind is the strongest part. I have a very strong mind and I think positively. I’m always very confident and I think that helps a lot.”

Often, athletes are hard workers with great discipline and perseverance, but have a hard time overcoming internal obstacles to reach their full potential and perform to best of their ability. There are many specific mental skills that contribute to success in jiu-jitsu and other areas in life. Psychological skills techniques help athletes make adjustments to their actions, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that will improve their performance on the mat. They can all be learned and improved with instruction and practice. M.S.T. (mental skills training) refers to the systematic and consistent practice of mental or psychological skills with the purpose of enhancing performance, increasing enjoyment, and gaining greater self-satisfaction. Mental skills include goal setting, visualization, positive self-talk, proper management of emotions & anxieties, and so forth.