...a healthy mind.
Most people think that what distinguishes an average athlete from a competitive athlete is physical skill, speed, the ability to dribble and shoot, and how accurate he or she is to the target. The problem with this is that it even includes both coaches and trainers. They will work and condition their players until they're worn out and ultimately useless.
Don't get me wrong, exercise is something we as athletes are supposed to do. We should be running to maintain endurance and an overall healthy body. We should be in the weight room getting stronger. We should be paying attention to portion sizes to maintain a healthy diet. However, overdoing it is a real thing. You can only run so often for so long before you feel lethargic and heavy. This sluggish feeling then puts negative thoughts in your head before a game.
Along with the mind comes motivation and attitude, both of which have an impact on performance as well. "You feel good, you look good, you are good."
In some cases, mentally strong athletes are actually able to take the negative thoughts they have floating around and use them as motivation to perform extremely well. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Much of the time, players will take the easy way out in psyching themselves out.
Baseball is a great example where mentality is a necessity. In baseball, players have more time to think about each action before they are about to pursue it. This is demonstrated in their quick reaction times and skilled hand-eye coordination. However, with sports such as field hockey, basketball or soccer, it is much more difficult to think on the spot because of the fast-moving pace of the game.
What the mind anticipates the body responds to. A player with a mind that is capable of anticipating the movement of the oncoming player or the ball is one who can control the game.
You can be physically strong and fit on the outside, but it means nothing if your mentality isn't there. The mind controls our every movement. Sports are 100 percent mental. The player who has a healthy mindset and self-motivates will top the player who physically looks the part, trains hard and eats right every single time.
Our thoughts influence our actions. Your potential is determined by how badly you want it internally. What you mentally feed yourself will show in your performance on the field, track, court or mat.
"Practice makes perfect" is the most deceiving piece of motivation out there in the sports world. You can spend hours, even days, running a play over and over but if you're not all in it mentally, then there's no way it will be executed when the time comes. This is especially witnessed in teams. A team will practice a play on repeat, then comes game day, one person has other things on his or her mind or is feeling doubtful, and it throws off the whole play and sometimes even the whole game.
The mind and the body come hand in hand. Performing one without the other means you're playing with only half of the potential you're capable of, and what's the point of that?