Rick Scarpulla: Strengthen Your Mental Game

Page:  1 Next »
Print
by RICK SCARPULLA

Rick Scarpulla: Strengthen Your Mental Game
Many athletes suffer from mental anxiety. That is, when your event or lift is very heavy or extra hard, many athletes start to doubt themselves. Some may look at their opponent and feel that s/he looks much bigger or in much better shape compared to them. These types of mental weakness are common among less experienced athletes; on the other hand, they are also very curable if you utilize the proper methods.

The True King of Strengths

The two things that visiting coaches and athletes who come to my facility comment on the most are the mental approach and the mental strength of each athlete. I have always said and strongly believe that absolute strength is the king of all strengths. However, I also feel that mental strength stands along side absolute strength and maybe even a step ahead, so I will restate my stance:

The king of all measurable strengths is absolute strength, but overall the true king of strengths is mental strength.

I have the privilege to work with some top level athletes, from strength and CrossFit athletes to those playing many different sports, some of whom are at the very top of their respective sport. The main trait they all share, regardless of sport, is the ability to control their emotion and thought process better than athletes of lesser success.

In my facility, mental strength is constantly worked on for good reason. Why? Because mental strength — although not a tangible or measurable strength — is a strength all the same; thus it must be approached and trained the same as any other strength. There is a powerful relationship between your mental preparation and your physical performance in sports. The development of a wide range of mental strengths, such as positive self perception and the use of mental imagery/visualization, can strongly support your athletic performance. Sports psychologists worldwide support and recommend these types of mental training techniques.

Mental training techniques are recommended

“Constantly varied”: The ability to be mentally in control of a situation where you are taxed in a maximum strength fashion is very different than one where you are in a state of exhaustion from an aerobic-based task.
Sport psychologists also agree that the same is true on the other end of the spectrum: negative thoughts and self-doubt can detract from any athlete’s performance. Another problem for athletes (many CrossFitters are guilty of this one) is over-analyzing. Over analyzing a task will detract from the athlete’s ability to react instinctively as well. When I work with younger athletes, for example, they just go for it; they don’t over analyze anything. It is the adult athlete who has to analyze everything and at times over think the whole situation.

The “constantly varied” nature of CrossFit requires many types of mental strength preparation. The ability to be mentally in control of a situation where you are taxed in a maximum strength fashion is very different than one where you are in a state of exhaustion from an aerobic-based task. You must be in control of situations where you are trying to conquer new and unknown tasks, along with the previous mentioned requirements. But if you feel as if you can’t do “it” — the lift, the WOD, the sprint, etc. — at the start, then there is a good chance you will not be able to do it.

By the same token, if you know you have it, then you have a far better chance of being successful. The ability to consistently control your thought process and remain focused on the task while continuing to push harder in that realm is a learned skill that takes constant and targeted training — another trait shared by the top athletes. Elite athletes have a higher mental threshold than most, and a key to this is emotion control.

Building Up Your Mental Game

Put yourself in difficult situations
The training of the mental strengths is done through successful repetition and continued application. In fact, we even use a conjugate approach to that as well, by putting ourselves in positions or situations that require different kinds of application of mental strength.

Ignore the “switch”: The distraction of the burn or fatigue is not signaling the end; rather, it is merely the body’s way of telling you that you are nearing the end. The ability to…override your body’s “safety first” signals requires mental strength.
One of the ways our athletes approach that training here at Ultimate Advantage is by understanding the process of building the mental game. We understand that part of the mind will want to stop long before the body will be at its threshold. Like the old expression says, your mind can play tricks on you. For example, in the middle of a Fran, you may get that “I can’t go on” feeling. The distraction of the burn or fatigue is not signaling the end; rather, it is merely the body’s way of telling you that you are nearing the end. The ability to control those situations and override your body’s “safety first” signals requires mental strength.

These are the same kinds of skills learned and used by Special Forces and elite task forces, but on a much less stressful scale. Theirs may be a life and death situation, while we are only referring to sport. Yet as most of us know from experience, athletes can encounter many intense moments during the heat of competition.

Page 1 2 3 Next »
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p9

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Week21 day3 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p8

United Barbell shared a link on Facebook

Less than 3 weeks until the "Fight Gone Bad" United for Youth event goes down at United Barbell! Make sure you register to reserve your space!

United Barbell shared a link on Facebook

Survey Results

CrossFit 209 Sport shared a link on Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=928875053808844&id=574926115870408

CrossFit Los Gatos posted an article
CrossFitOfFremont posted an article
Kristy Parrish published the post How Do I Choose the Right Workout Program? on Tabata Times
Results outline the efficacy of a workout program. With a sound, objective foundation (i.e...
CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/whiteboard/ Who's on top?

CrossFit Dark Element shared a link on Facebook

http://cfdarkelement.com/daily-wod/

CrossFit Oakdale shared a link on Facebook

http://cfoakdale.com/2014/10/22/weightsmovements-for-the-rx-division-of-the-franniversary/

CrossFit Potrero Hill shared a link on Facebook

WOD- Wednesday, Oct 22 This FRIDAY! Paleo Potluck and Pumpkin Carving! Bring a dish and a pumpkin. 6-9pm No class or open gym this Saturday for the Scream Team competition! Find a partner (guy/guy and gal/gal) to compete with! 3 events, all level …

CrossFit Sweatshop posted an article
CrossFit Potrero Hill posted an article
Corey's Gym posted an article
Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

week21 day2 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p7

Morgan Hill CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

week21 day2 http://wp.me/p3Bc8L-p6

cfsausalito shared an image on Facebook

Congratulations to C/S athletes Galo Arias and Sharon Squire for completing the Warrior Dash over the weekend and to C/S athlete Alicia Asensio for running the Nike Women's Half Marathon on Sunday! We love seeing you all express your fitness in different competitive environments -- so proud of you!

CrossFit Modesto shared an image on Facebook

Happy Tuesday! We'd like to welcome Nestor to our community. You know the drill: if you see him, introduce yourself and say hello. Thanks for joining us, Nestor!

CrossFit Modesto posted on Facebook

ANNOUNCEMENTS -- PLEASE MAKE A NOTE OF THESE IN YOUR CALENDARS! - CrossFit Modesto will be closed ALL DAY October 31st (Halloween) and November 1st for the Hock Hocheim Knife Seminar. - WODTOBERFEST takes place on October 29th at 5:30 PM and will be the *ONLY* class in the pm (NO 12pm or 4:30pm classes)

American River Crossfit shared a link on Facebook

10/21/2014 http://wp.me/sGeX1-10212014

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Prehab/activation: SMR - rhomboids / low back Banded hip flexor stretch 2x10 hip thrusts 2x10 scap retraction on rings -then- 5 x 250m row sprints - rest 2 mins between attempts, post best and worst time -then- AMRAP in 12 minutes: 15 push-presses (75/55) 12 back rack in place walking lunges (75/55) 9 pull-ups

CrossFit Envy posted on Facebook

Competitors Program Week 1, Day 2: 5x5 @ 75-80% weighted ring dip -alternating with- 5 attempts for max time in an L-sit -then- With a 15 minute running clock: Run 1200m* Followed by max rounds of: (1,2,3...) Hang Power Clean (175/120) (1,2,3...) Burpee over the box jump (24"/20") *do the long 800m course, then around the building twice -then- Every 30 seconds for 8 intervals: 1x20yd prowler sprint (176/108) or use a weight that allows you to sprint 20 yards in under 10 seconds. Then, rest 3 minutes and repeat once more.

CrossFit HEALDSBURG posted on Facebook

Competence speaks through confidence and it is easy to carry others along when you believe in yourself. - Mark Twight

CrossFit Bios shared a link on Facebook

South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Ski and Snowboard Conditioning Boot Camp is in full swing! We know who'll be ready for the snow!

CrossFit West Petaluma shared a link on Facebook

Good Ol’ Fashioned Strength Day http://blog.genesispetaluma.com/?p=2997

South Tahoe CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Avalanche shared an image on Facebook

Check out Derek getting low. Over 50lbs lost and an amazing gain in range of motion!

CrossFit Genesis posted an article
CrossFit Avalanche shared an image on Facebook

The paleo challenge day 1. Can you guess who's paleo bank this is?

Jefferson State CrossFit posted on Facebook

Just watched Julie Noyes complete 3 touch and go power cleans with her previous max! -Stoots

CrossFit Anywhere shared an image on Facebook

Our #MCM goes to Blair and Rob as they prep to crush the competition at Iron October 2 this Saturday! Come out to cheer them, and our other competitors on at CrossFit Iron Mile in Natomas from 9-4!

CrossFit Feather River shared an image on Facebook

This Saturday the 25th is the Yuba Sutter United Way Spooktacular 5k/10k Run! Race starts at 9am and there will be prizes awarded for best costumes! Let's get out there and represent CFFR!! https://www.yuba-sutterunitedway.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=15

South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Even though it's only October, we are already thinking about Decking our Halls!!! Mark your calendars!!! STCF Christmas Party is slated for Friday, December 12! You will NOT want to miss this shindig!

CrossFit Valley View posted on Facebook

This week is a special one! Why you ask?! Well because Our Box owner, Jennifer Correia, the one that brought CrossFit to Los Banos, is clebrating her Birthday this Sunday the 26th and guess what 30 burpees are due! so jump on her ass to get them done and hey, why not have her step it up a bit and make it for time????

CrossFit Valley View shared an image on Facebook

Starting off the day right

CrossFit 530 posted on Facebook

CrossFit 530 is closing. Friday will be the last day of business. All billing has stopped and will be refunded on a prorated basis. We sincerely thank everyone for their contribution to our CrossFit community over the last several years and wish you all health and happiness.

mqprunty published the post Why I Compete on
I wasn't quite sure where to go with this article...I first started with – “Why YOU Should...
South Tahoe CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

#crossfit #stcf #mental #southtahoecrossfit #neverquit #mexturesapp

John Mariotti published the post 3 reasons you get hurt at CrossFit on
There is a huge amount of bad press about CrossFit hurting people. I hear about Doctors and...
CrossFit Genesis shared a link on Facebook

October 20, 2014 Workout of the Day #holdthebar #alivetribe #workout #roseville

CrossFit Folsom Lake shared an image on Facebook

Lateral box jumps? Yikes!! Switching it up a little today :-)

Auburn CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

ACF – October 20, 2014 http://t.co/e5cyBN9E97

Hilary Wiebe published the post 10 Things I've Picked Up in My First Year of CrossFit on
This past September was my one year CrossFit anniversary. I’m really excited for what lies ahead...
CrossFit Monterey posted on Facebook

Training 141020 Strength: Back Squat 3 @ 7, 3 @ 8, 3 @ 9, plus one down set (load drop) Conditioning – 4 Rounds for time: 400m Run 4 Deadlifts, 115#/75# 4 Power Cleans, 115#/75# 4 Push Press, 115#/75# 4 Front Squats, 115#/75# Post results to comments.

CrossFit Valley View shared a link on Facebook

CrossFit Redding posted on Facebook

After meeting with the council we have decided to put the 6am Class on hold. The Mon-Wed-Fri 5a class is still alive and well. 6am'ers gather your peeps and lets get this going again!

arielyve published the post All You Need to Know on Preventing Cancers on
Everyone has cancer cells in their body and these cells never get caught in normal tests until...
CrossFit 38 Degrees North shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit translates to all aspects of life, hopefully it influenced these guys aim over the weekend. Here is four of our 38 North boys on a camo heavy bonding trip into the wild. And the WOD for tomorrow is.......... "The CrossFit Total" 15 Min to find 1RM Back Squats -3 attempts 15 Min to find 1RM Press-3 attempts 15 Min to Find 1RM Deadlift- 3 attempts add highest rep from each movement together to find total

CrossFit Feather River shared a link on Facebook

Workout of the Day for Monday October 20th, 2014

CrossFit CSA posted on Facebook

In teams of two, with only one teammate working at a time, perform the following within 28 minutes: 6 x 100 Meter Row (Each partner rows 100m AND resets it to Zero) 50 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24"/20") 10 Rds of Cindy (5 pull-ups-10pushups-15 squats) 6 x 100 Meter Sprint Run (50m down and back, then partner goes) 10 Rds of Cindy (advanced do Chest to bars) 50 Burpee Box Jump Overs MAX Double Unders Score is number of double unders you complete. It will be very difficult for most teams to even make it to the double unders. *for the run sprints, instructor will set up cones outside 50m apart, where each teammate will run down and then return and tag their partner. ** advanced player please perform chest to bar pull-ups

CrossFit 580 posted on Facebook

Save the date! Saturday November 1, wear your Halloween costumes for the team WOD!

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Sam getting one of his 165lb thrusters. #crossfitready #readynation #crossfit #affiliatecup #thrusters http://t.co/z3ryd7nr2o

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Was that my last Burpee? #crossfitready #readynation #crossfit #burpee #checkwithyourjudge #teamfitaid… http://t.co/T5www0zbgn

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event#1 awesome team! So@proud of everyone #crossfitready #crossfitcommunity #crossfitcompetition… http://t.co/fdgVE5P9PS

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event #1 open team! #crossfitready #crossfitcommunity #readynation arivas411 http://t.co/AmnkWStE2e

CrossFit 580 shared a link on Facebook

http://www.crossfit580.com/wod/320/monday-10-20-14

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Alison with a solid 1st Event #crossfitready #crossfitready #readynation alimisenar crossfitkeely http://t.co/cymX9MnAxJ

CrossFit Ready shared a link on Facebook

Event #1 Masters at work! notthebarbie paulmation #crossfitready #readynation #crossfitcommunity… http://t.co/HfnSZcF3S3

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV