What Are Mental Skills?
A brief description of mental skills is that they are psychological techniques used to help performers achieve states potentially beneﬁcial to sport performance, such as concentrating, feeling conﬁdent, feeling motivated, feeling prepared, experiencing optimal physiological arousal, and thinking constructively. However, the benefits of mental skills are not limited to athletes. Persons who work or perform in pressure situations can benefit from the use of mental skills. When the performer reaches this state of beneficialness, they have entered what is known as ‘the zone’. When performers are in the zone, they seem or appear to be unstoppable. They are doing everything right and seem to be able to make no errors. How does this happen? Mental toughness. Mental toughness is the ability to stay focused on what is before you and not worry about the world around you.
Some mental skills that can help the athlete or performer to learn how to find mindfulness are goal setting, imagery, relaxation, and self-talk. Characteristics that research has found to help athletes become elite and successful are being more committed, motivated, self-confident, focused, able to cope with adversity and peak under pressure.
The mental toughness construct is said to combine cognitive, aﬀective, and behavioral qualities that allow a performer to persist in the pursuit of personal goals despite experiencing setbacks and stressors. There are three areas of focus for the athlete or performer that needs to be worked on and created to help the mental toughness be built. Control is one’s ability to control their thoughts and actions. This is mindfulness and staying centered. Consistency. If the performer feels like they are performing on a consistent level and producing consistent results, their confidence will rise. Personal conﬁdence has emerged as an important antecedent of getting into the zone and possessing a peak performance. Several studies have found trait sport conﬁdence to be signiﬁcantly correlated with dispositional ﬂow (being in the zone) compared with other variables. Research found a strong relationship between conﬁdence and all component measures of dispositional ﬂow.
Metal skills are techniques used to help athletes and performers alike to find the zone and build confidence. It is with this confidence that performers across the spectrum can focus on having a great performance.