1. Perfectionist

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree and moved to Crested Butte, Colorado to be a ski-bum for one season. Well, the employment opportunities were not in high demand, so I was forced to work construction. I sucked at it. I became the laborer of the group, because I could hardly nail two pieces of wood together.

To this day, I “hate” being bad at anything and can’t accept the fact that I am not good at everything.

     2.  All or Nothing thinking:

My mentality: win or lose, make the shot or miss it, do a good job or a poor job. This type of stinking thinking has gotten me into trouble. It means the good times are good, but the bad times are bad, and there are few times of being in the middle.

The problem is that when I think this way; I allow no room for making mistakes or learning the lesson. However, since we all are going to lose more often than we will win, a big part of mental toughness is learning how to deal with loss and failure.

 3.    Negativity:

Coach John Calipari said once that he can bring the intensity to practice 3 out of 5 days, but he needs his players and other coaches to bring the enthusiasm the other days.  I am the same way. One of the things that I teach is the power of attitude and belief, and I still struggle with it. I can sometimes catch myself when driving to negative town, but it is still one place that I hate to go, since it serves little purpose.

4.    Tunnel vision:

Everyone’s greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness. Mine happens to be my obsession with mental toughness, sport psychology, and improvement.  If I set a particular goal, I will achieve it, period. However, there is a level of selfishness with this pursuit. For example, I’ve written four books on Mental Toughness, ran 2 marathons, and had a hole-in-one.  So, other pursuits in my life have to drop off in order for me to remain steadfast on the people and things that are really important.  Although, the tunnel vision is productive in the short-term, balance is better.

 5.    My unbelief:

There is a verse in the bible, Mark 9:24. It’s the verse I sign all of my books with. It is a man talking to Jesus, who says “lord I believe, help my unbelief.” This sums me up. I believe in my faith and salvation and know that things happen for a reason and that things also work out.

However, when I get stressed or fearful, it means I am not practicing my belief. The most important mental skill is confidence, and faith is all about trust. When I don’t trust it, I don’t believe.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

California Bears kicker Vincenzo D’Amato missed three field goals, (42,40, & 42 yards) on Saturday against The Ohio St. Buckeyes. The last miss was bad, reminiscent of Vanderjagt’s miss against the Steelers during the 2005 playoff game. 

I am not piling on, believe me, I wouldn’t have cleared the line of scrimmage with my attempt. However, before the last kick, the coach had told D’Amato to “picture the goal-posts getting wider.” It’s like I was watching the movie The Natural, hearing some hypnotist tell the guys “losing is a disease,” or playing some weekend golf and hearing the same ol’ “Be The Ball” routine. There is a right way to visualize and THAT’s not it… 

What the coach was trying to do was deflect the kicker’s attention away from the situation and to something external. He was also trying to “trick” the kicker into believing something that just isn’t true!!! It’s like if you are lifting weights and telling yourself  “the weight is light” instead of telling yourself to “get strong.”  It’s the difference between wishing for an easy life, instead of praying to be a strong person…It’s also like telling yourself a marathon is not that far.

Right way to visualize:

On the other hand, Ball State University kicker, Stephen Schott, was faced with 42 yard attempt, with his team down 39-38, against the Hoosiers. “I just block everything out,” he said. “I focus on my target behind the upright and I visualize the ball going through the uprights every time. I was just fortunate enough to do it again tonight.”

Use a coach:

Visualization is probably the most powerful mental training technique we can do! However, most do not even attempt visualization, because he/she hates seeing themselves mess up and they can’t really control the images. Utilizing imagery during practice and not only during pressure moments is how it REALLY works. Visualization should be completed on a consistent basis and used to picture and feel the process of playing well.

Get a professional to guide you through the proper images and feelings! A great product on the market is through Athletes Audio.  Bob Kinnison, the founder, has developed mp3 audio scripts and smart phone apps, for you to put in your headphones.  Check it out!!