WHAT IS MENTAL STRENGTH?

THE TERM MENTAL STRENGTH IS BANDED AROUND A LOT IN SPORT THESE DAYS. WITH THE ADVANCEMENTS IN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION, AS WELL AS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY AND BUSINESSES INVOLVED IN SPORT ATHLETES AND COACHES AS WELL AS THE BUSINESSES FINANCING THEM ARE MORE INTERESTED THAN EVER IN MENTAL STRENGTH.

THE TERM MENTAL STRENGTH IS FAIRLY AMBIGUOUS AND SEEMS TO MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. SOME TALK ABOUT MENTAL STRENGTH IN TERMS OF RESILIENCE, SOME LOOK AT IT IN TERMS OF COURAGE, SOME IN TERMS OF DISCIPLINE HOWEVER MINDSPORT CONSULTING TENDS TO VIEW MENTAL STRENGTH AS A CONDITIONING PROCESS INVOLVING THREE MAIN VARIABLES, EACH OF WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS. THE CEREBRUM HAS THREE MAIN COMPONENTS; SENSORY AREAS, ASSOCIATION AREAS AND MOTOR AREAS.

THE SENSORY AREAS RECEIVE MESSAGES, ASSOCIATION AREAS ASSOCIATE THIS INFORMATION WITH PAST AND PRESENT SENSORY INFORMATION AND MOTOR AREAS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTION OF THE MUSCLES. TO HELP EXPLAIN THESE THREE COMPONENT MINDSPORT LOOKS AT MENTAL STRENGTH IN TERMS OF THE EAGLE; RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SENSORY AREAS, THE LION; RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ASSOCIATION AREAS, AND THE BEAR; RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MOTOR AREAS

THE EAGLE

THE EAGLE CONTROLS THE SENSORY AREAS IN THE BRAIN INCLUDING THE THALAMUS WHICH COORDINATES THE SENSORY IMPULSES FROM EYES, EARS AND SKIN AND THEN RELAYS IT TO THE CEREBRUM, THIS WORKS THROUGH A PROCESS KNOWN AS SENSORY GATING WHICH IS THE PROCESS OF FILTERING OUT REDUNDANT OR UNNECESSARY STIMULI IN THE BRAIN FROM ALL POSSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULI. THIS HELPS PREVENT AN OVERLOAD OF IRRELEVANT INFORMATION.

IN ADDITION THE EAGLE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TEMPORAL LOBE WHICH CONTROLS MEMORY STORAGE OF EMOTION, HEARING, AND LANGUAGE.

THE EAGLE ALSO MANAGES THE PARIETAL LOBE WHICH RECEIVES AND PROCESSES SENSORY INFORMATION FROM THE BODY SUCH AS DETERMINING THE LOCATION AND SPEED OF OBJECTS.

THE EAGLE ALSO CONTROLS THE OCCIPITAL LOBE WHICH MANAGES VISUAL DATA AND ROUTES IT TO OTHER PARTS OF THE BRAIN FOR IDENTIFICATION PROCESSES AND STORAGE.

IF THE EAGLE IS DISCIPLINED, WELL TRAINED AND FED WELL DURING A TRAINING CAMP THEN THE ATHLETE WILL BE ABLE TO COPE WELL WITH ALL STIMULI, IN ADDITION FILTER A WIDE VARIETY OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF STIMULI AND FUNCTION AT A HIGH LEVEL OR PERFORMANCE. IF THE EAGLE IS POORLY PREPARED THEN AN ATHLETE CAN FEEL OVERWHELMED AND FREEZE, THEY MAY BECOME UNABLE TO COPE WITH THE INFORMATION THAT THEY ARE BEING PRESENTED WITH AND IT IS COMMON FOR ATHLETES WHO FIND THEIR EAGLE MISSING DURING COMPETITION SAY HOW THEY JUST SAW A FLURRY OF ACTIVITY AND COULDN'T FOCUS ON WHAT TO DO, THEY JUST KEPT TRYING TO SEE OR HEAR THEIR COACHES BECAUSE THEY JUST FELT LOST.

THE LION

THE LION IS GENERALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW THE BRAIN REGULATES THE EMOTIONS AND NERVOUS SYSTEM. THE LION IS LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR PROWLING AROUND THE FRONTAL LOBE WHICH ORGANIZES RESPONSES TO COMPLEX PROBLEMS, PLANS STEPS, SEARCHES MEMORY FOR RELEVANT EXPERIENCE, ADAPTS STRATEGIES TO ACCOMMODATE NEW DATA, GUIDES BEHAVIOUR AND CONTAINS THE WORKING MEMORY. ITS ORBITOFRONTAL CIRCUIT MANAGES EMOTIONAL IMPULSES IN SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE WAYS.

THE LION ALSO HAS CONTROL OF THE HYPOTHALAMUS RECEIVING TASTE AND SMELL IMPULSES, COORDINATING MESSAGES FROM THE AUTONOMOUS NERVOUS SYSTEM, CONTROLLING THE HEART RATE, BLOOD PRESSURE AND BODY TEMPERATURE.

THE LION ALSO CONTROLS THE AMYGDALA WHICH IS CONSTANTLY ALERT TO THE NEEDS OF BASIC SURVIVAL. THESE SURVIVAL NEEDS INCLUDE THINGS LIKE SEX AND EMOTIONAL REACTIONS SUCH AS ANGER AND FEAR.

ATHLETES THAT DO NOT TRAIN THEIR LION, DISCIPLINE AND FEED IT WELL DURING A TRAINING CAMP WILL OFTEN SUFFER FROM ANXIETY AND HAVE FEELINGS OF PANIC WHEN THEY ENTER THE COMPETITIVE ARENA. OFTEN THEY DESCRIBE THEIR FEELINGS AS BEING VERY SMALL, OR COMMENT HOW THEIR OPPONENTS SEEM MUCH LARGER, STRONGER OR FASTER THAN THEY ARE. THEY FEEL AS THOUGH THEY ARE A CHILD, STANDING IN FRONT OF A HUGE ADULT AND FEEL ALL THE EYES OF THE CROWD BURNING INTO THEM. IF THE LION STOPS ITS REASSURING GROWL THEN CONFIDENCE QUICKLY DISAPPEARS AS THE LION BEGINS CLAWING AWAY INSIDE THE ATHLETE AND IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO COME BACK QUICKLY FROM THIS SCENARIO. 

THE BEAR

THE BEAR IS THE MOTOR CONTROL FUNCTION AND RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONVICTION BEHIND THE ATHLETE’S DECISION TO ACT. THE BEAR CONTROLS THE MID BRAIN WHICH IS A SMALL SECTION OF THE BRAIN THAT CONTROLS THE REFLEX MOVEMENTS OF THE HEAD, NECK AND EYE MUSCLES. IT PROVIDES A PASSAGE FOR THE DIFFERENT NEURONS GOING IN AND COMING OUT OF THE CEREBRUM.

THE BEAR ALSO CONTROLS THE CEREBELLUM WHICH ACTS AS THE BRAINS EXPERT OF SKILLED, AND COORDINATED MOVEMENT.

ATHLETES WHO FAIL TO TRAIN, DISCIPLINE AND FEED THEIR BEAR DURING A TRAINING CAMP OFTEN DESCRIBE FEELINGS SUCH AS EMPTINESS, OR COLD OR DISINTERESTED WHEN THEY ENTER THE PERFORMANCE ARENA, THIS IS WHERE THEIR BEAR IS SQUEEZING ALL THE CONVICTION AND POWER OUT OF THEM ON THE INSIDE. SOME ATHLETES COMMENT HOW THEIR LEGS OR ARMS MAY FEEL HEAVY OR THEIR STRIKES FEEL LIKE JELLY WHEN THEY THROW A PUNCH OR TAKE A SHOT. 

ARE YOU WORKING ON YOUR MENTAL STRENGTH YET?

IF ANY ONE OF THESE AREAS OF MENTAL STRENGTH IS NEGLECTED THEN IT CAN HAVE CATASTROPHIC IMPLICATIONS FOR SUCCESS, IF THE EAGLE IS NOT WELL TRAINED IT WILL PECK OUT THE ATHLETES EYES, LEAVING THEM BLIND AND VULNERABLE, IF THE LION IS NOT FED AND DISCIPLINED THEN IT WILL TURN ON ITS OWNER AND TEAR THE HEART AND SOUL OUT LEAVING THE ATHLETE A SHELL OF THEIR FORMER SELF, AND IF THE BEAR IS NOT CONDITIONED THEN IT WILL SQUEEZE ALL THE POWER AND CONVICTION OUT OF THE INDIVIDUAL LEAVING THEM INEFFECTIVE AND AT RISK.

THEREFORE IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT ALL THREE ELEMENTS ARE ASSESSED AND TENDED TO IN THE RIGHT WAY. THE BEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE MENTAL STRENGTH TRAINING IS BESPOKE TO THE INDIVIDUAL, AS ALL THREE ELEMENTS INTERACT AND WORK WITH EACH OTHER IN DIFFERENT WAYS IT IS IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP SKILLS IN ALL THREE AREAS, WHILST FOCUSSING ATTENTION ON EXPLOITING EXISTING STRENGTHS AND MAKING IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENTS TO AREAS OF WEAKNESS OR VULNERABILITY.

IF YOU WANT TO DEVELOP YOUR MENTAL STRENGTH THEN CONTACT MINDSPORT CONSULTING LTD.