mental resilience training

Today we’re talking about mental resilience training and how to build it for long-term athletic success!

If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably looking for ways to up your mental game and crush it on the field, court, track, or whatever your arena may be. 

Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’m Dr. Eddie, a sports psychologist who specializes in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and today, I’m going to give you some tips on training your mental resilience training so you get the most out of your training. 

Understanding Mental Resilience Training

First things first, what the heck is mental resilience training? 

In a nutshell, it’s the ability to bounce back from setbacks, stay motivated, and handle pressure like a pro. 

It’s not about being tough all the time. It’s about being flexible and rolling with the punches.

Mental resilience training is like having a mental gym routine. 

Just like you train your muscles to get stronger, you train your mind to handle stress, pressure, and setbacks. 

It’s about developing the ability to stay cool under pressure, keep pushing forward even when things get tough, and not letting failures or setbacks define you. 

Think of it as your mental armor—protecting you from the slings and arrows of sports and life.

Why is mental resilience such a big deal? 

Well, imagine you’re in the middle of a crucial game, and things aren’t going your way. 

Do you crumble under the pressure, or do you keep your head in the game and power through? 

That’s what mental resilience is all about. 

Here’s why it’s essential:

Every athlete faces setbacks, injuries, losses, bad days!  Mental resilience helps you recover and learn from these experiences rather than being crushed by them.

Long seasons, tough training schedules, and the grind of competition can wear anyone down. Resilience keeps that inner fire burning, helping you stay focused on your goals.

Also, whether it’s the final seconds of a close game or the pressure to perform in front of a big crowd, resilience helps you stay calm, collected, and in control.

It’s not just about peak performance. It’s about maintaining a high level of performance consistently over time. Mental resilience training helps you maintain that steadiness.

Now, before we dive deeper, let’s clear up some common misconceptions. 

Mental resilience is NOT:

It’s not about pretending you don’t feel anxious, scared, or frustrated.

It’s about acknowledging those feelings and finding ways to move forward despite them.

You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine 24/7. It’s okay to have bad days and negative thoughts. Resilience is about not letting those thoughts take over.

No one is mentally resilient 100% of the time. 

It’s a skill that you build and improve over time, not a state you achieve once and for all.

How to Recognize Mental Resilience

So, how do you know if you’re mentally resilient? Here are some signs:

  • Adaptability: You can adjust to new situations and challenges without getting thrown off course.
  • Optimism: You maintain a hopeful outlook and believe that you can overcome difficulties.
  • Emotional Regulation: You manage your emotions effectively, even in high-pressure situations.
  • Self-Awareness: You understand your strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to improve.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: When faced with a challenge, you come up with effective solutions rather than getting stuck.

Building mental resilience isn’t a one-time thing! It’s an ongoing process. 

Just like you wouldn’t expect to hit the gym once and come out ripped, you can’t expect to build resilience overnight. 

It takes practice, patience, and persistence.

Keep these points in mind as you dive into the rest of the article and start working on building your own mental resilience.

Acceptance and Commitment (ACT) Therapy: The Basics

So, what’s ACT? 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of therapy that helps you accept what’s out of your control and commit to actions that improve your life. 

It’s got six core processes that are super handy for athletes. Let’s break it down.

ACT is all about psychological flexibility! 

It helps you accept the things you can’t change and commit to actions that align with your values, no matter how tough things get. 

Instead of trying to control or eliminate difficult thoughts and feelings, 

ACT teaches you to coexist with them while still moving toward your goals.

ACT isn’t just a set of techniques. 

It’s a mindset and a way of approaching life and sports that fosters growth, resilience, and high performance. 

If you want to read more on what ACTbis click on this article here.

By integrating its principles into your athletic routine, you can develop a stronger, more flexible mental game that supports your physical talents and drives you toward success.

mental resilience training

Applying ACT Principles to Build Resilience

Now that we’ve covered the basics of ACT, let’s dive into how you can apply these principles to build mental resilience training and boost your athletic performance.


Acceptance is all about embracing your thoughts and feelings rather than fighting them. 

It’s about making space for all your emotions—both the positive and the negative.

Example: Got pre-game jitters? 

Instead of trying to squash them, accept them. 

It’s normal to feel nervous. 

It means you care! 

Acknowledge your anxiety and recognize it as part of the experience. 

You can even practice saying to yourself, “I feel nervous, and that’s okay.”

Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive defusion techniques help you detach from unhelpful thoughts and see them for what they are: just thoughts, not facts!

Example: Stuck in a loop of negative self-talk? 

Try mindfulness techniques to separate yourself from those thoughts. 

For instance, if you keep thinking, “I’m not good enough,” try adding “I’m having the thought that” before it: “I’m having the thought that I’m not good enough.” 

This simple change can help you see your thoughts as temporary and not necessarily true.

Being Present

Staying present helps you focus on the here and now, reducing anxiety about the future or regrets about the past.

Example: Lose focus easily? 

Grounding exercises can help keep your head in the game. 

Before a competition, spend a few minutes focusing on your breath, noticing the sensations in your body, or paying attention to your surroundings. 

During the game, bring your attention back to the present moment whenever you notice your mind wandering.

Self as Context

Understanding that you are more than your thoughts and feelings helps you maintain perspective and avoid getting overwhelmed by any single experience.

Example: Tough loss? 

Remember, you’re more than one game or one performance. 

Reflect on your broader identity as an athlete and as a person. 

Consider writing a list of your strengths, accomplishments, and the things you value about yourself outside of sports.


Identifying and living by your core values can provide a powerful source of motivation and direction.

Example: Why do you play? 

To win, sure, but maybe also for teamwork, fun, or self-improvement. 

Keep those values front and center. 

Write them down and revisit them regularly, especially during tough times. Let your values guide your decisions and actions on and off the field.

Committed Action

Taking committed action means doing what matters, even in the face of challenges. 

It’s about aligning your actions with your values and staying on track toward your goals.

Example: Set meaningful goals and go after them, no matter what obstacles pop up. 

Break your goals into smaller, manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way. 

When you face setbacks, remind yourself of your values and why you’re committed to these actions. 

Keep moving forward, even when it’s tough.

Practical Tips and Exercises

Building mental resilience training is an ongoing process, and integrating ACT principles into your daily routine can make a huge difference. 

Here are some practical tips and exercises to help you build and maintain mental resilience.

Daily Practices

Incorporating simple, daily exercises into your routine can strengthen your mental resilience over time. 

These practices help keep you grounded, focused, and aligned with your values.

  1. Morning Mindfulness Routine: Start your day with a few minutes of mindfulness. 

Sit quietly and focus on your breathing, or use a guided meditation app. 

This practice can help set a calm, focused tone for the rest of your day.

  1. Gratitude Journaling: Each evening, write down three things you’re grateful for. 

This exercise shifts your focus to the positive aspects of your day and cultivates a habit of appreciation. 

It can improve your overall outlook and make it easier to handle stress.

  1. Values Reflection: Spend a few minutes each week reflecting on your core values. 

Write them down and think about how they influenced your actions during the week. 

This can help you stay aligned with what truly matters to you.

  1. Daily Affirmations: Use positive affirmations to reinforce your resilience and commitment. 

Phrases like “I am capable of handling whatever comes my way” or “I am committed to my growth and improvement” can boost your confidence and focus.

In-Competition Strategies

Quick mental strategies during competitions can help you stay resilient, focused, and perform at your best.

  1. Breathing Techniques: When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, practice deep breathing. 

Try inhaling for a count of four, holding for four, and exhaling for four. 

This simple exercise can calm your mind and body, helping you regain focus.

  1. Visualization: Spend a few minutes before the competition visualizing yourself performing well. 

Imagine the sights, sounds, and feelings of success. 

Visualization can enhance your confidence and prepare you mentally for the challenges ahead.

  1. Mantras and Cues: Develop short, positive mantras or cues that you can repeat to yourself during competition. 

Phrases like “Stay focused” or “One play at a time” can help you maintain concentration and composure under pressure.

  1. Grounding Exercises: If you find your mind wandering or getting caught up in negative thoughts, use grounding exercises to bring yourself back to the present moment. 

Focus on the feel of the ground beneath your feet, the sounds around you, or the rhythm of your breathing.

Post-Competition Reflection

Reflective practices after competitions help you learn from your experiences and continuously improve your mental game.

  1. Post-Game Journaling: After each game or event, take some time to journal about your performance. 

Write about what went well, what could be improved, and how you felt throughout the competition. 

This reflection helps you identify strengths and areas for growth.

  1. Successes and Challenges List: Make a list of your successes and challenges from the competition. 

For each challenge, think about what you learned and how you can address it in the future. 

For each success, consider what contributed to it and how you can replicate it.

  1. Debrief with a Coach or Teammate: Discuss your performance with someone you trust. 

Share your reflections and listen to their feedback. 

This can provide valuable insights and help you stay accountable to your goals.

  1. Emotion Processing: After an intense competition, take time to process your emotions. 

Whether it’s through talking with a friend, journaling, or simply sitting with your feelings, acknowledging and processing your emotions can prevent them from building up and impacting future performances.

By integrating these practical tips and exercises into your routine, you’ll build a strong foundation of mental resilience. 

Remember, consistency is key! 

The more you practice, the more natural these strategies will become, helping you stay resilient and perform at your best, no matter what challenges come your way.

mental resilience training

Overcoming Common Challenges

Building and maintaining mental resilience is a continuous journey, and like any journey, it’s filled with obstacles and challenges. 

Here are some common hurdles athletes face and practical strategies for overcoming them.

Staying Consistent

Consistency is key in building mental resilience, but it’s also one of the biggest challenges. It’s easy to start strong and then fizzle out.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down your mental resilience practices into small, manageable steps. 

Instead of committing to an hour of mindfulness every day, start with five minutes and gradually increase as it becomes a habit.

  • Create a Routine: Integrate resilience-building activities into your daily schedule. 

Whether it’s a morning mindfulness session or an evening reflection, having a set time can help make these practices part of your routine.

  • Use Reminders: Set reminders on your phone or put up sticky notes in visible places to prompt you to practice mindfulness, gratitude journaling, or other resilience-building activities.
  • Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use an app to track your progress. 

Seeing how far you’ve come can be motivating and help you stay committed to your practices.

  • Accountability Partners: Pair up with a teammate or friend who is also working on their mental resilience. 

Check in with each other regularly to share progress and keep each other motivated.

Handling Setbacks

Setbacks are inevitable in sports, whether it’s an injury, a loss, or a slump in performance. How you respond to these setbacks is crucial.

  • Reframe Setbacks: Instead of viewing setbacks as failures, see them as opportunities to learn and grow. 

Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?” and “How can I use this to improve?”

  • Acceptance: Practice acceptance by acknowledging your feelings about the setback without judgment. 

It’s okay to feel disappointed or frustrated. 

Acceptance helps you process these emotions and move forward.

  • Resilience Plan: Have a resilience plan in place for when setbacks occur. 

This might include specific coping strategies, supportive people you can talk to, and positive activities that help you recover and stay focused on your goals.

  • Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. 

Remind yourself of your strengths, past successes, and your ability to overcome challenges.

Balancing Mental and Physical Training

Integrating mental resilience work with physical training schedules can be challenging, especially with already demanding routines.

  • Combine Practices: Integrate mental exercises with physical training.

For example, practice mindfulness during warm-ups or cool-downs. 

Use visualization techniques while stretching or doing low-intensity workouts.

  • Prioritize Recovery: Mental resilience is closely linked to physical recovery. 

Ensure you’re giving your body and mind enough rest. 

Use downtime to practice mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or engage in activities that you enjoy and that help you unwind.

  • Time Management: Efficiently manage your time to make space for both physical and mental training. 

Plan your week in advance, including dedicated slots for mental resilience practices.

  • Communicate with Coaches: Talk to your coaches about the importance of mental training. 

Many coaches understand its value and can help you find ways to incorporate it into your overall training plan.

Maintaining Motivation

Keeping the motivation to practice mental resilience, especially when results aren’t immediate, can be tough.

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. 

Each step forward is a step in the right direction.

  • Connect to Your Values: Regularly remind yourself of your core values and why you’re committed to these practices. 

This connection can provide a deeper source of motivation beyond just immediate results.

  • Visualize Success: Regularly visualize not just your performance success but also the positive impact of your mental resilience practices. 

Imagine how being mentally resilient helps you perform better, feel more confident, and enjoy your sport more.

  • Involve Your Support System: Share your goals and progress with friends, family, or teammates. 

Their support and encouragement can boost your motivation and keep you accountable.

Dealing with Burnout

Athletes can sometimes experience burnout from the constant pressure and demands of training and competition.

  • Mindfulness Practices: Use mindfulness to help manage stress and prevent burnout. 

Regular mindfulness practice can improve your ability to stay present, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall well-being.

  • Take Breaks: Ensure you’re scheduling regular breaks and time off to rest and recharge. 

It’s essential to balance training with adequate recovery to avoid physical and mental exhaustion.

  • Variety in Training: Incorporate variety into your training routine to keep it interesting and engaging. 

Try different exercises, training environments, or sports to prevent monotony.

  • Seek Professional Help: If burnout becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help from a sports psychologist or counselor. 

Professional support can provide you with tailored strategies to manage stress and maintain your mental health.

By recognizing and addressing these common challenges, you can develop a more robust mental resilience that not only supports your athletic performance but also enhances your overall well-being. 

Remember, overcoming these obstacles is part of the journey toward becoming a more resilient and successful athlete.


Alright, champs, let’s wrap this up. 

Mental resilience is your secret weapon for long-term success in sports. 

It’s about embracing the ups and downs, staying true to your values, and pushing forward no matter what.

And if you’re ready to take your mental game to the next level, I’ve got something awesome for you: the Success Stories Membership

This platform gives you access to specific training on mental resilience and other crucial skills to help you achieve high performance and win competitions. 

You’ll get exclusive content, practical exercises, and a community of like-minded athletes all striving to be their best. 

It’s like having a personal sports psychologist in your pocket!

So, what are you waiting for? 

Join the Success Stories Membership today and start your journey towards unstoppable mental resilience and athletic success. 

See you on the inside!