Bobby Jones once famously said, “the game is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.” If you’re an athlete, you’ll understand the immense power and significance of mental toughness; the ability to consistently perform to your potential and harness your talent regardless of the circumstance. Long gone are the days that you can just show up, put your gear on, and go play.
Sports scientists have generated formulas for success composed of essential normative and cognitive behaviors that allow for maximum results both mentally and physically. While you can go talk to a sports psychologist or a mental trainer, both of which I would recommend, there are countless books, talks and videos, and podcasts that you can access that will allow you to tap into the imperative mental component and powerfully feed the space between your ears. It is high levels of mental toughness that equal high performance and high success; so to understand mental toughness and how to achieve it, we must first define what it is.
I believe mental toughness is when your mind and body have been pushed to incredible limits, ones that leave you drained, completely tapped out and in extreme discomfort- but somehow finding the strength deep inside you to get back up and keep going while competing at the highest level. It is this toughness that separates good athletes from great athletes. Those who train between the ears, in other words, those who focus just as much on the mental aspect as the physical one, are the ones who end up on top. So if you struggle with focus, harnessing your energy, lack of motivation or simply just want to build your mental game, then here are some of the most influential books, talks and podcasts that can and will take you to the next level.
1. Hustle by Joshua Medcalf
2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
3. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
4. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
5. The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive by Jim Afremow
6. Relentless by Tim Grover
7. Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack
Talks & Videos:
1. A Netflix Original: I Am Not Your Guru by Tony Robins
2. YouTube: Nothing to Something by Eric Thomas
3. Ted Talk: Inside the Mind of Champion Athletes by Martin Hagger
4. Ted Talk: Mental Toughness by Sean Richardson
5. YouTube: How Bad Do You Want It by Eric Thomas
6. Ted Talk: Just Be Good by John Herdman
1. The Tim Ferris Show podcast by Tim Ferris
2. The School of Greatness podcast by Lewis Howes
3. Sports Motivation podcast by Niyi Sobo
4. Mind Over Muscle podcast by Matt Fitzgerald
With this list, you’ll be able to read, watch and listen to some of the most inspiring people in the world and begin to truly train your brain to be tough, self-motivated and ready to compete. Books, videos and podcasts are the most accessible and wisest of coaches, and the most patient of teachers; so why not fuel your brain and become the best athlete you can be?