How do we get our players and performers tougher?
The constant plea from coaches and parents around the world. Nothing against the traditional navy seal/ tough love/in your face approach but lets keep the toughness alive long after the soldiers leave town.
Let's define some phrases we hear about constantly in the athletic and performance world!
Peak performance. Mental toughness. Mental skills. The Zone. Control the process. The cliches go on and on.
Let's get to the core facts!
Mental toughness is really about emotional control.
It's an athletes ability to navigate through adverse (internal or external) conditions through the use of a series of weapons(strategies) that he or she has can quickly access.
Let's slay the dragon from the outside in!
Can our eyes and their visual strategies (what, how and when) we process the outside world effect mindset?
I am convinced after years of on field testing and clinical research, emotional control (mental toughness) starts with eye control!
The most common mental pattern in our culture is thinking hard. This is how we process linear information, like arithmetic, and logical relationships such as cause and effect.
The two ways of seeing reflect the two ways of thinking. Looking hard (tunnel vision) which occurs when the the visual field contracts and looking effortlessly ( Open Focus) which occurs as the visual field expands.
How's your stress meter or anxiety level when watching a beautiful sunset or sitting on a beach watching the waves and sailboats and seagulls pass through your visual field?
Bottom line. Mental toughness starts with controlling what and how we view the playing field and its many visual distractions.
"When I look at nothing, I see everything."
Once an athlete begins to try to understand this century old visual "choice",the gateway to mental toughness appears.