Top Ten List to Stay Motivated and Build Mental Toughness

Top Ten List to Stay Motivated and Build Mental Toughness

Most high school and college athletes are pretty motivated but need guidance on how to get to a new level of fitness and athleticism. From off-season growth and speed workouts to in-season maintenance plans, there are different programs to choose from and it all depends on your goals and current fitness level. The difference in excelling during the off-season is your own self-motivation and the question is, "Are you a wanna-be or a gonna-be?"

1 -- Get your workout over with - Before any commitments, work out either in the early morning before school or immediately after school. Write it down in your calendar because if your workout is not in your schedule - it does not exist.

2 -- Jam Out - Have recorded music to wake you up prior to your workout or one of my favorite was a tape recorded message from myself and it said, "Hey -- get your lazy butt up and into the gym -- NOW!"

3 -- Name it and Tame it  - Write down your goal and put it up in your bedroom, inside your locker, on a school folder or make a poster of it. Look at this EVERYDAY.

4 -- Performance Cue -- Create buzz words before, during and after your workouts that pump you up to perform at your best. This sports psychology tool is used by profession athletes every day. Some ideas are:  "Game on", "Let's Roll", "compete", "gonna-be", "work hard". Remember one of the best athletic performances you have ever had -- give it a name and get yourself back into that moment.

5 -- Even when you do not feel like exercising -- DO IT. Another thing you will develop when you start to train hard is the confidence in yourself. You will sharpen your mental toughness by pushing your fitness levels each week. No need to push through serious illness, but when you start to push through the "don't feel like it" line, you build mental toughness that day.

6 -- Have a workout partner - YOU have to be motivated and when you are motivated to workout you lead by example to your partner. One day he/she will do it for you when you need it the most.

7 -- Know what work is:  When you are truly motivated to excel in a sport, you will do whatever in your power to prepare yourself. Otherwise you are just playing games.

8 -- Understanding Fitness -- Once you understand that fitness, flexibility, speed, agility, strength and power are all components of performing at your best, it is easier to stay motivated to work out and build the foundation needed to prevent injuries and stay in the game.

9 -- Change it up -- Don't do the same old workout week after week. One you will get bored with it and two your body will stop responding to it as before. Change up the workout by adding weights, calisthenics, new exercises, new cardio options over 2-3 weeks.

10 - Never let go of a dream - Not all people can play sports and often it is the effort you put in off the field that will enhance your game enough to make the team. Ask any coach if they would rather have a group of hard working players with heart or a group of talented players with little heart. Hard work wins every time.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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