Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes held by someone. When it comes to the sports world, there comes a time in every athlete’s career where you have to develop an elite athletic mindset. This forces you to move beyond just the physicality and the workouts or conditioning alone. Every successful athlete I’ve ever worked with has shown the willingness to work on the developing the mindset of an elite athlete. Keep in mind this is a facet of your character coaches will look for beyond just your speed and skill. It shows the kind of person you are and the value you’ll bring to any team.

Today I’m with Trey Wilson, D1/NFL defensive back who’s in to talk about this very subject. Obviously I talk to you guys a lot about training, techniques to help you sprint faster, jump higher, and score more often. Trey is looking to touch upon a topic that doesn’t get shared often enough, but one that changed the course of his career.

Why is mindset important in sports?

Let’s start out with this simple question: “why is mindset important in sport?”

I believe that having a mindset dedicated to performing at the highest level and constantly bettering yourself is essential to sports. As we’ll learn from Trey’s story, you may not always have the highest skill level when it comes to your peers, however you can always choose to outwork them.

The set of attitudes which becomes your mindset around sports and performance is often what ends up setting you apart from the crowd. We often hear about the mentality of great athletes as having confidence, but I’d argue it actually becomes a matter of discipline. It’s important to be conducting yourself as an elite athlete even from the time you’re in high school. Trey is somebody I truly respect as an athlete, who’s made it to the highest level of his craft.

Trey Wilson was an elite D1 college player turned NFL athlete. We’ve spoken many times about the process of how to develop an elite athletic mindset in college, and even reflected back on things he wish he would’ve known back in high school. I even asked if there was anything he could’ve done to improve his chances or changes the trajectory of where he was headed.

The mindset of an elite athlete…

I find a lot of young athletes are so focused on that final outcome whether it be going D1 or getting a scholarship or making it to the NFL. It seems they almost forget that while on that path to reaching their ultimate goals, you need to have some sort of structure or process that’s actually going to get you there. I asked Trey: “What do you feel might support younger guys who are in that process?”

“I think if I could give my younger self advice it would be from a standpoint of understanding the importance of consistency and discipline. I was reading a book not too long ago and it said “more dangerous is a man who practices kicks for a thousand days straight, than a man who practices a thousand kicks in one day.”

What allowed me to separate myself was the realization that I had a realistic chance at my sport and knew this was something I could be good at. From there I had to rearrange my priorities. My decision making process completely changed. These aren’t perfect stats, but for every high school freshman that plays football, only about 10% of those will get a D1 scholarship. Next if you pool all the D1 athletes, less than 1% will get to the NFL. Once I realized I had that opportunity to take my craft to the next level, I could now look around me and see all the opportunity. And with realizing that I knew I couldn’t do what regular people are doing.

Be cautious about participating in things with people who don’t have as much to lose as you do. I developed an  understanding that I needed to lock in and knew I couldn’t be going around and messing with my friends who didn’t have the same opportunity that I did.”

How to begin implementing change in your mindset

Develop an Elite Athletic Mindset

Trey and I went on to discuss how he stopped going home for the summer’s between seasons during college which allowed him to focus more on training and stay in the right athletic mindset. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t go home, but it speaks volume to how you may have to create the right situation or put yourself in the right situation to be immersed in your sport and thrive. This is a conscious decision in which every elite athlete needs to sacrifice certain things, in order to be fully involved. Here you’ll be more supported to keep training, stay focused on nutrition, and have discipline as a part of your daily routine.

Trey goes on to share how honing in on your athletic mindset means you can beat even the competition who’s stronger and faster than you…

“I was never the fastest. I was never the strongest. I could never jump the highest, or was never the most physical. I wasn’t the tallest or the heaviest. That’s why I had to have the most discipline and fully commit to an elite athletic mindset. I made sure that even when I couldn’t outlift or outrun my peers on the field, I could always out play them when it came to competition by dialing in to the little intricacies of the game. ”

How does psychology affect sports performance?

One key tool a lot of high level athletes use is known as visualization. This is a mindfulness practice where you take time to see yourself performing at your desired level or exhibiting the skill you’d like to acquire.

This might look like taking just 5 minutes before practice or game time to be alone, close your eyes and visualize yourself moving with agility, finding yourself open for every pass, having ears alert to the rest of your team, and scoring points. When you’re finished, consider the skills or routine that one would need to consistently perform at the level. Regularly incorporating this into your routine can have incredible benefits. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about how does psychology affect sports performance you can check out this informative article from the American Psychological Association.

I also recommend checking out these specific 3 habits of elite athletes.

Develop an Elite Athletic Mindset

The bottom line is that if you want to be at that elite level, you have to think and act like it. These require consistent decisions in which you treat yourself as if you’re already at that elite level. A mindset isn’t something you’re born with, but something you cultivate. 

As far as Trey goes, these sacrifices paid in dividends as he went on to break both school and NCAA records as a collegiate D1 football player. If you’re ready to start building your career, with an elite athletic mindset then I couldn’t recommend the right coaching enough… Join over 500 elite athletes who have already transformed their career with OTA remote coaching. Overcome the top three biggest issues top performers face:

  1. Wrong programming – work with a specific program for you and your needs based off proper progressions.
  2. No skin in the game – work to develop an elite athletic mindset with your OTA coach
  3. Paralysis by Analysis – Put your blinders on and get to work. No need to worry about the best exercises for each workout. We’ve got that part covered.

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