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My Top 5 Mental Toughness Books

Everybody is an athlete, our offices are just different. 


If you want our updated list or recommendations for mental toughness and sport psychology books, click here. 


“You are paid to read.” That’s what my coach told me, so I obliged. It takes Mental Toughness and discipline to read and consume information. Here’s my top list of mental strength books. 

Power of Broke The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage I never watched Shark Tank, but I do know FUBU-For Us By Us.  I’ve also been broke. This book by Daymond John is a fast read, but more importantly is chocked full of stories and insight from the best entrepreneurs on how:

Empty pockets, A tight budget, and a hunger for success is actually a competitive advantage.


Mental Toughness books The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the PacificThe Bridge over the River Kwai was a movie I watched with my dad.

This book is exactly like that, except it’s not Hollywood; it’s the “real” thing. All I can say is that after reading these mental toughness books, I realized that I can’t basically complain about anything. I simply take too many things for granted. #perspective.


leaders eat last Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t  This is the 2nd Simon Sinek book I’ve read and this book is better than Start with Why.  I always thought that the main chemicals in our brains for success were just endorphin & dopamine, right?! The feeling from a job well done and the feeling of exercise.

These are selfish chemicals though, Serotonin & Oxytocin are the leadership chemicals in our brains. The specific actions that we take release or don’t release the essential chemical we are really seeking. This is just one of the fascinating nuggets from the book.


spy the lie Spy the Lie: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception My kids are still young, but I’m now prepared for when they become teenagers. This is one of the mental toughness books that you apply only when needed and you kind of forget you had that skill locked away. 

Coaches & Parents- You need to read this book! I actually preferred the audiobook on this one and I think you’ll hear why. 


Extreme Ownership Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win Jocko Willink has a podcast that is just straight up nasty. There are so many HUGE learning lessons from the podcast as well as the book. Since not many can actually relate to Navy Seals and their extreme disciplined level of life, this book breaks it down so that no matter your profession, cause, or passion, you’ll benefit from reading it. These are one of the mental toughness books that you apply immediately. 

It boils down to one thing- there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Discipline = Freedom.


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

Here are 5 Ways Parents Can Build Mental Toughness.

“Perfect little Rachel ” She was not mentally tough and it had little to do with her.

That’s how her parents described and introduced their child, a high-school 2nd baseman. That’s pretty high expectations, and I was curious how long they had been calling her that. 


Check out Our Latest Post- The Ultimate Sports Parent Guide: How To Have A Great Athlete in 2019

Read more

Lose mental toughness

Lose mental toughness


When we lose mental toughness, do this…


Winning is easier to handle than losing.

Losing hurts and it is painful, especially when we have The BIG LOSS!  However, we are going to lose in life more than we are going to win. So, let’s get better at it. 

Those that have mental toughness actually handle losing better than those who are not as mentally tough.

As Bobby Clampett once stated “It’s easier to lift a trophy than it is to lift up one’s head.” 

When we lose, we sometimes lose mental toughness and we need to do this instead…


         -Perform an Autopsy- 


Autopsies are performed by experts for medical and/or lawful purposes. An autopsy provides answers and gives us a cause of death. 

Autopsy=To see for oneself.

Losing is similar to death, except it is not fatal. It sucks when we feel like we lose along our journey as well. 

Coaches watch tons of film after games. They are looking for tendencies, mistakes, and how to improve. Often they won’t even give answers to the media for a loss until after they have performed an autopsy. 

We can do the same. For instance, Rickie Fowler reflects after every round and goes through it in his mind. It’s a major point in our sport psychology talks to coaches and teams. 


Here’s  4 to-do’s when we lose mental toughness. 

1. Be Objective
2. Find The Cause
3. It’s Not You
4. Do The Autopsy and Bury The Body

1) Be objective

Losing is an event, it is not a person.  

If we can’t separate who we are with what happened, it’ll be more difficult to learn the cause. An autopsy requires us to be honest, which is difficult because it requires objectivity. This is simply why having a coach is so important. 

2) Find the cause

The toughest autopsies are the ones where the death is undetermined. Truth is, we may have performed the way we were supposed to but the outcome just didn’t work out in our favor. 

Those hurt!  

We still need to find the cause, Did we lose or were we just beat?

3) It’s not you, it’s me

I hated that excuse because it was a way to avoid the real reason! 

Blame is simple, it’s much easier to move the mirror in front of someone else.

While we are looking for reasons why we lost, we must own our own stuff! The way we lose mental toughness is to not own it! What did WE control and what could WE have done better?  Blame is simple, but it doesn’t help moving forward.

4) Don’t forget to bury the body

Coach Tom Griffin at Carson-Newman once had a bad loss heading into the post-season. He bought some meat, brought the entire team to the field at night at night, dug a hole, and buried the loss!

  • We need to MOVE ON,
  • bury the loss,
  • and hit the reset button. Refocus

If we keep bringing up the loss after the autopsy, we haven’t really buried it. Why would you want that dead body lying around? 

It’s okay to look at the past, just don’t stare at it. Don’t lose mental toughness over a loss.


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

re-ignite your confidence

Isn’t it interesting how things seem to get better when it’s going well, and yet worse when things are going bad?


6 quick videos that will re-ignite your confidence…


What if we can break the cycle of negativity?

I hate losing confidence, but it happens from time to time. However, too often I meet successful people that simply don’t have the inner self-belief in themselves. We can’t afford to lose confidence!  It’s NOT about motivation, it’s about belief.

Nothing can stop an inspired person whose time has come! It’s about becoming something greater!

Confidence is contagious…

Watching others have success automatically builds belief in ourselves. If strengthens the belief that “Hey, if they can do it, so can I.”  CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO PLAY


Arnold Schwarzenegger~ “Who do you want to become, not what, but who?” 

Will Smith~ “You don’t set out to build a wall, You say  ‘I’m going to lay this brick.’ “ 

Billy Mills ~ Every Passion Has It’s Destiny! BEST ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE OF ALL-TIME. 


Susan Boyle- “I Dreamed a Dream!” Watch to the laughter turn to tears…


Capt. Sully~ “It was the worst pit of your stomach feeling”   Miracle on The Hudson

We trust these 6 videos can re-ignite your confidence and belief. Remember, we need to marinate our mind with mental toughness! #pukeandrally 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

contract of mental toughness

the eyeball contract of mental toughness

Signing The Eyeball Contract Of Mental Toughness


I spoke to a group of 30-40 elite divers every week for an entire summer. This session, I brought along my son and daughter, ages 6 & 4.  They enjoyed sharing the stage with daddy, (I think my daughter loves selling the books), but this time they were particularly enjoying the attention a bit too much.

The divers became distracted, so I had to ask my kids to settle it down. Didn’t work… I then knelt down to say it again and my son lovingly punched me in the face.

The divers awkwardly laughed, but I didn’t.  

I needed to remain calm and take control at the same time. It was also one of those moments where you could feel all of the eyes on you.


I told him “EYEBALL CONTRACT”. 

Then, I proceeded to instruct him what was now expected. No more distraction, issue solved. I went right along with the presentation and even told the divers what I just did. A teachable moment…

John Groce, Head Coach of Illinois Basketball, has his players form an eyeball contract. The culture is such that in the huddle before practice and games, players have an eye-ball contract. The eye-ball contract means looking in someone’s eyes and knowing that you will give your best and they will give their best! Eyeball contract of mental toughness TAKES Mental Toughness. 

I use it with my family and vice-versa when it is something very important. We need each other at their best. No more games sort of attitude~this is what we’re are going to do.

I’ve seen the best of intentions on signed contracts, pledges, or agreements. They sound great but  rarely work. They are more about looking good rather than actually making a difference. 

People are going to make mistakes and mess up. It happens. Those that signed an agreement or pledge however to NOT mess-up are now bound by law. When and if they do stumble, they are now under the thumb of extreme shame for the mistake. They often can’t come clean because they are in an abyss. What happens is that they become good liars. The agreement once propped up as a show of pride turns into an awful reminder.

The strategy of an eyeball contract of mental toughness gets results because it addresses the moment, not the past. Eye-ball contracts can be agreed upon frequently and when core values are at stake.

It puts the emphasis on our character, in that exact moment. Forget the past.

The head fake is that the best eye-ball contracts are with ourselves in the mirror. Chris Herren, as a former professional NBA player, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. It wasn’t until he became sober that he finally looked at himself in the mirror.  He simply didn’t like himself before.

I hate messing up, it saps my confidence and I’m just not of much use to anyone during those times. But, all I have is an eyeball contract, and that is renewable every day. I’m going to answer the bell more often than not. Mental Toughness is less about not messing up and more about not giving up. However, what kills most belief is just not allowing ourselves to mess up.

We are all worthy of an eyeball contract of mental toughness with ourselves.


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 Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

prevent the big meltdown

Max Faulkner Star-Telegram

3 ways to prevent the big meltdown

I took a few steps to my right at second base to field a simple ground ball. I dropped it… Run scored, game over! 

I then proceeded to punch the brick wall of the dugout before getting on the bus, I probably broke it (my hand, not the wall), I don’t remember. All I know is that I now wouldn’t play the next game. There’s always two types of pain…

Here’s how to stop the big meltdown.


Mistakes happen, errors and failure are a painful part of the game. But, what happens next is still most important. The next play or the next day. Read our article on  What happens when we experience the BIG LOSS? 

The University of Northern Iowa suffered the worst meltdown I’ve ever seen. Up 12 points vs. Texas A & M with 44 seconds remaining to reach the sweet 16. They were a good team!!

The Texas Rangers had an epic meltdown in Game 5 of the series with 3 consecutive infield errors soon followed by a 3-run homer. I felt bad for Elvis Andrus.

The Bartman incident in 2003 with the Cubs, led to a meltdown by Alou, followed by a walk, followed by a base hit, then a crucial error by shortstop Gonzalez.

Boise State lost to Nevada in 2010, by missing a 26 yard FG in regulation, then missed a 29 FG in OT.

Meltdowns are like a huge wave crashing into the shore.  One mistake leads to another. There is a science behind the collection of mistakes. Catastrophe theory.

To prevent the big meltdown is that the one mistake and the adrenaline and anxiety tip past the point of return.

Then there becomes an extreme drop off in performance, hence, catastrophe. These meltdowns occur in bigger moments because of the importance of the situation increase, so does the overall anxiety level. Mistakes earlier in a competition can be let go of easier because there’s still a lot to be played.


Here are three ways to prevent The Big Meltdown


Use the Time-Out

Once the error happens later in the game, use the time-out! Coaches can ease the tension and uptightness by making the transition from problematic to relaxed. Rallying the troops means to assemble everyone and bring order. The time-out allows this to happen. Too often, this gets overlooked.

During the time-out, reinforce the belief and poise in the players and team. Have them own the awareness that it’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. So what? Next play.

Remove the emotion

During stressful and emotional situations, we revert to how we trained!  If we have practiced remaining calm, breathing, refocusing, then we will implement these skills when they are needed. These skills are the best at removing the emotional situation and focusing on making the next play. Mental Toughness prevents the big meltdown. To keep your head when others are losing theirs.

Listen to the cockpit recording as Captain Sullenberger experienced the depth of emotions when his plane struck the gaggle of birds shortly after take-off in New York. He remained calm as a Hindu cow because his training allowed him to re-focus on the task at hand, successfully landing the full plane with no power in the most populated area in the entire world.

Have a Plan

Short-term, process goals create focus.

Long-range, outcome-based goals create stress.  

Prevent the big meltdown by applying this…After a mistake, using the time out, and removing the emotion: what’s our plan? Short-term goals like make a stop, get an out, knock it down, throw a good pass, aggressive serve, etc. What’s the immediate goal?

Larry Bird stealing the in-bound pass or Reggie Miller scoring 8 points in nine seconds both had an immediate focus on the goal, make a play! 


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

hate koala bears


Why I Hate Koala Bears


It’s awful what has happened in Australia and with the fires. I needed to fix this blog post, because I wish NO-ill will on any animal!

However, I hate things that aren’t what they appear to be. It’s why I can’t stand politics. Nothing is what they make it out to be.  

I am a wash and wear kind of guy.

I’ve had a few famous idols in my life and was unlucky enough to meet them all. They never lived up to my expectations.

I still get caught up in appearances as much as anyone.

It bothers me when I encounter athletes that look like a demigod, but don’t have mental toughness. They may be the fastest on the field, but lack that all-important “it” factor.  George Foreman once stated, “ Big guys have everything, except motivation.”

Koala bears fit the mold of not what they appear to be.  I thought they were cute until I pulled back the curtain and exposed the wizard.

  1. First of all, they aren’t even bears, they are marsupials.
  2. Koala’s sleep over 20 hours in the day. They are lazy! Anyone actually see them moving around in a zoo?
  3. Over 90% of Koala’s have chlamydia! Gross to even think about, but it’s also the biggest control to their population.
  4. Koalas are incontinent, they are constantly peeing all over themselves, probably while they sleep too.  It can’t be a pleasant smell.
  5. As if you need one more reason,  babies feed on their mother’s “pap,” that’s short for poop I think. The babies actually eat their mother’s diarrhea. (Sorry I had to mention it.)
  6. They also try and steal some of the shine from Panda bears, and Panda’s are awesome! 

Rats, on the other hand, are NOT cute, but they are tough. Sure, they spread the plague, but you know what you’ll get with a rat. I’ll take a rat any day of the week. Rats also get a bad rap as snitches. Odd moniker, but it stuck. If I had a college mascot, I would actually name them the Rats.

  1. Rats are an animal that can tread water for over 24 hours.
  2. They can chew through lead pipes and cinder blocks and run on telephone wires.
  3. They carry around a tail the length of their body and can still fit through almost any size hole.
  4. They can run up to 24 mph. That’s fast!
  5. 95% of the animals tested in laboratories are rats and the one mammal that could survive a nuclear explosion.

Rats even have one of the best kids movies of all-time, Ratatouille.  Koala bears don’t have that.

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 our most recent books on Mental Toughness- 

How To End Practice

                                      How to End Practice To Build A Better Team 


My wife questioned my strategy for leaving any social get togethers.

I never said goodbye at any party or wedding.

I always left exactly the same way. I would just duck out the door.  No goodbye. Like ripping off a band-aid.

I hated giving the formal goodbye, because people never let you leave without some sort of guilt play or long-drawn out “I meant to tell you” story. 

It’s probably how most people do it today in real life. No two-weeks notice, no official break-up, and especially not face to face.

Just a text.

So, in order to build a better teamHere’s how to end on a positive note.  


My daughter hated it at first that I’ve implemented the principle of how we end everything. But, she gets it now.

We Thank The Coach! 

Coaches and mentors are the most important person in our lives. Everyone needs a coach!

Coaches Mark James and Brain Satterfield know how to end practice.  They do it the same way, they shake each player’s hand. Nowadays, hopefully, we can still fist bump! 

It’s simple, yet powerful.

NO matter the type of practice or outcome of game, the ending is always the same. It was created as a way to put any type of closure to a good or poor day, a way to END it positive. 

Players even started looking forward to it.

The worst punishment a coach could probably ever deliver is telling one of their players, “I don’t want to see you after practice.” But, without being deliberate with how to end practice, we run the risk of doing just that, not seeing them. 

A positive ending is essential because we can’t know the last time we are ever going to see someone.

Travis Smith played golf at Ball State and I distinctly remember seeing him at practice before I left for Nashville. I don’t recall saying goodbye… He died in a car accident. There’s no amount of money his parents or coach wouldn’t have given to spend just a few more moments with him. 

Money isn’t the most precious resource, its time.

Make sure you know how to end practice on a positive note. One of the best ways is to end everything with a handshake and a thank you.


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly. 

A participation trophy does not build mental toughness 

participation trophy hurts

FOX 59 interviewed me… click on the image above to watch the story…

Kids are not to blame. We are.

We’ve become obsessed not with their own medals, but our own. We run a 5k and expect a medal. A coach even told me a runner who didn’t even run, wanted their finisher medal for a 5k!

Trophies don’t mean anything.  Many Olympians have their Gold medals in a sock drawer. We are the one’s who give meaning to the trophy and what it represents.

Olympians didn’t participate for a medal, it was not the driver. They wanted to test themselves against the best. Their own mental toughness and talent are the reasons for their success.

When we give kids a participation trophy, it is more about the adults than it is the kids. Check out our article on the most costly mistake that  Sport Parents make

I doubt if even one kid ever began to play sports because they thought, “Hey, I get a trophy at the end.” They play for the fun, and the Capri Sun. 

Awarding a participation trophy actually can do more harm than good. 

We think that providing an external reward for hard work will build motivation, but the opposite may be the case. It may diminish their motivation. Is it a reason why 80% of kids stop playing by age 14?

Not sure.

Yale researcher, Amy Wrzesniewski examined the motives of over 11,000 West Point cadets across the span of 14 years.

They wanted to assess the impact of cadets “why” for entering the academy. Cadets that had internal motivators were more likely to graduate, receive promotions, commissions, and stay in the military. Cadets that entered with BOTH strong internal and external motivators (such as get a good job later in life) revealed drastically less success.

The external factors such as get a better job and make more money had a negative impact on overall success.

Think about it, we all have different internal motivators and are more likely to accomplish a task when we tap into our own “why” rather than a carrot or stick approach.  (i.e., I find a wallet- I’ll return the wallet because it’s the right thing to do, rather than the possible reward I could get.) 

Adults don’t need to give a participation trophy to kids, they just need praise their effort and allow them to have fun and also fail.

We don’t make everyone a winner by making everyone not a loser. It may even create more losers.


top mental toughness coachDr. 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   

Top Mental Toughness Quotes

don’t question your mental toughness


Don’t Question Your Mental Toughness


There is “no question” about it. 

Did this cliche’ emerge in sports? I’m not sure, it’s just where I hear it most often.

What I’ll hear from competitors is an indication of their mental toughness

I listen for how often they question themselves. 


  • “how did I do that?”
  • “what are you doing?”
  • “why am I out here today?”
  • “What are YOU DOING!?” 

All Questions! 

Mental toughness doesn’t ask questions.

Do you question your Mental Toughness? 

Because I don’t hear an athlete that is playing well, ask themselves questions such as, “how are you playing so well?”  “How are you so awesome?!” 

Questions during competition emerge after mistakes and they make sense, but they are rhetorical, and they aren’t answered. 

All they do is lead to more questions or merely go unanswered.

If you want to become more mentally strong then do this instead!

Don’t question your mental toughness!

Questions don’t lead to many positive adjustments, just more questions. Things will go bad, and we aren’t going to always play our best, so we will need to make adjustments. 

So, we need to give ourselves instructions about what to do NEXT.

Try statements instead.

We are either listening to ourselves or telling ourselves.


  • “Okay, next play,”
  • “wow, that wasn’t the best,”
  • “stay aggressive,”
  • “find a way.” 

These statements can even be motivational, but I’ve found that the best make slight instructional adjustments.  

You don’t need to question your mental toughness! Or question your ability or skills. You just need to develop a habit of telling yourself what to do next!

Confidence is king, but Focus is queen!


 

 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly.