The Mental Advantage


Think about some of the top athletes from sports; Michael Jordan, Adrian Peterson, Wayne Gretzky, and Usain bolt, just to name a few. What is something they all have in common? Yes, they all have a strong work ethic and elite talent, but they also all possess a strong mind. Each one of these athletes exude strong self-esteem and confidence in themselves. Well, they are the best in the world why wouldn’t they have that confidence? It’s not a given. You may remember the recent news story of how Tiger Woods had an accident with his vehicle, his wife left him, and the public shamed him for his numerous girlfriends. Tiger, unarguably the best golfer on the planet of his generation, yet his game suffered tremendously after he went through that period of time where his mental strength was challenged. Let us examine why the mind makes a difference, and believe me, it makes a difference.

Brain exercise, treadmill, smart, strongTo have a mental advantage in sports you must possess a strong psyche. The strong psyche needs to be supported in part by amazing abilities to control emotions, fame, and ambition. The athletes with a strong mind will also have realistic self-awareness and the ability to use self-evaluation for maintenance. When a person achieves the title of the best in a particular sport, you would think he or she could then put training on autopilot. That is not the case. In fact, right now LeBron James is fresh off an NBA Finals loss but is going beast mode with his workouts. If you are skeptic, go check out LeBron’s Instagram account. Ray Lewis, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP, has been quoted saying, “The hardest thing to do is work hard when no one is watching.” It is the off-season, so why is one of the best basketball players on Earth working so hard? Champions, like LeBron, find a way to fight through their own mental naysaying and complacency to constantly improve their abilities. Still, how does one recognize the need for this mental battle to get to the next level, let alone fight through it?

The strong mind is not a case of Nature vs. Nurture, rather it is a case of Nature & Nurture. An athlete who has superior mental strength from genetics combined with athleticism and hard work send these him or her to the top. This is theory is better than to conceive a theory saying a strong mind comes from intelligence. I am not saying athletes are all the stereotypical “dumb jock”, but having intelligence does not make you a quality athlete and vice versa. When researching this topic I looked at SAT, Wonderlic, and IQ scores of some of the top athletes in each sport. I did not find a consistent link between high intelligence and elite athletic performance. The most debated and blogged case was Mike Tyson, but information was limited on him because he did not graduate high school and failed the GED test. However, Mike worked his way into becoming the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Regardless of where the root of a mental strength comes from, the outcome is a gift when it appears in athletics. It is a gift to the athlete as it becomes the basis for an envious life, and it is also a gift for us as spectators who get to witness historical displays of sports’ feats.

About James Langan

In 2014, I created the Fit in Daytona Magazine as the writer, photographer, interviewer, and digital designer. After it's local explosion in popularity, the magazine grew & evolved into an online fitness publication. - Founder of Fit in Online, host of the Fit in Online Fitness Documentary.

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