We all know that injuries take a devastating financial and emotional toll on athletes and their teams, but what is the true cost? In Australia, sport injury (both semi-professional and professional), costs the economy around $2 billion a year, which is on par with obesity, widely regarded as one of the nation’s biggest public health challenges. But the REAL cost of injury cannot be wholly monetised. Quite simply, it so often means the crucial difference between WINNING & LOSING!
For many athletes, when the pressure goes on, the mind starts to crack, and then the body follows suit. It’s usually a predictable and cyclical process, and it’s difficult to halt. If you’re feeling a lack of self-worth, low confidence, or are afraid of making mistakes, then the body will hear the constant negativity that’s flowing through your mind and shut down to pull you out of that extreme situation. Many athletes become trapped in their own minds and they can feel their excitement levels decreasing, which means they’re not playing on natural flow energy anymore. They are now playing from a place of fear, which drains their energy and gets them worried about the future or the past. This eliminates an athlete’s NOW factor, and they’re suddenly playing their sport whilst constantly thinking. They are not in the moment, and therefore they are out of flow.
The elite sports system today struggles to manage the mental health of their players. Many of our best athletes regularly break down, either mentally or physically, because of the level of pressure and expectation perceived from the media, the club, and the general public. This issue is by no means confined to sport either — we are facing a global crisis when it comes to mental health, and the rise in social media and its accompanying scrutiny, along with our fast-paced society, has no doubt contributed to this. Thankfully however, athletes (and the rest of us) no longer have to imagine a life where performing at their highest peak is a given and injury is no longer a concern. With the introduction and rapid evolution of new technology, this can now be a reality, achieved via the systematic use of a mind training personal development app which can be equivalent to athletes having a performance or mindfulness coach online and at their disposal 24/7.
When we see that a player’s performance is inconsistent and is continuously going up and down, it’s generally because there is no continuity of the mind - the excitement is wavering, the pressure is on and anxiety levels are cementing. A large percentage of elite athletes don't have the mental capacity to consistently compete at peak levels. Their body may be strong and professionally managed, but their minds are not. They need a reliable process to recognize how to clean out their mental filters of everyday junk, get in flow with life, and become receptive to life’s bounty — which includes reaching and realizing their dreams and creating their own reality. Where your focus goes, your energy flows.
These are the 5 Key Areas where Athletes regularly break down:
- Not unconditionally excited
- Not 100% focussed
- Lacking self-worth
- Harbouring Repeating Fears
- Not listening to your Body – Fatigue
The most effective way of achieving and maintaining a quality mind and ridding ourselves of toxic and destructive thought patterns and beliefs is via frequent and consistent mental check-ins, where we can reflect, check ourselves and essentially ‘change the record’ playing in our heads whenever necessary. This applies to anyone who is struggling with the challenges of life, whether you’re an athlete, an executive, or a stay at home Mum. None of us are born with a propensity to struggle with stress, self-doubt and worry, however these learnt behaviours become ingrained in most of us over the years, and the best way to alter these thoughts and behaviours is via repetition.
When we can eliminate many of life’s perceived challenges through change of habit, we immediately reduce the likelihood and severity of injuries, illness and burnout. When you are fully plugged into the NOW and racing toward your highest excitement, anything is possible. You just need to get rid of the default programs clogging up your mind, let go of the past and release your fears for the future. Everything is neutral until you give it meaning, and far too often we are our own worst enemy, getting in our own way of success, fulfilment and happiness with limiting beliefs and worry. The body is led by the mind, and a strong, quality mind will enable you to handle the high pressure of elite sports (or life) and consistently reach the pinnacle of performance.
Habit formation occurs when we repeat an action consistently in the same context, until it becomes a healthy habit that comes naturally. Rapid developments in technology have encouraged the use of smartphone applications to promote strong and positive mental and physical health, and it allows everyone that has a phone to access a wealth of resources that make therapeutic techniques more accessible, portable and cost effective. The ideal mental health app would not only promote healthy, repetitive behaviours, but it would also provide access to real life quality mind mentors, should they be required.
Richard Maloney is the founder and CEO of Quality Mind Global, an international mindfulness business with over 1000 clients in 30+ countries. He is also the founder of Engage & Grow Global, which is now the number one employee engagement licensing company in the world. Now, he has a unique and tangible personal activation system designed to minimize or eliminate stress from business leaders and executives through systematic mental training, allowing you to unlock your ultimate capability and your true potential, both at work and in life. For more on the Quality Mind Program & our ground-breaking Personal Development App, or to purchase the book Stress Free – How to Thrive Under Pressure in Unprecedented Times, or Injury Free – Mental Training for Elite Athletes (offering personal development for athletes), go to www.qualitymindglobal.com