To an amateur it might be surprising that there’s a lot more to training than the sport itself. Yes, that’s right, as well as copious amounts of physical exercise in all areas of the gym, court and pool, the most successful volleyball players also undergo a lot of mental training too.

 

Developing into a better volleyball player doesn’t necessarily mean bumping up the hours of training. It could simply mean you need to address the issues that are preventing you from succeeding and analysing the elements that make up a successful athletic performance.

A lot of players completely forget about mental training and don’t consider its merits at all, but when you think about the fact that your head is never empty, least of all right before a major competition, you’d be right in thinking there’s a lot you can do to prepare your brain and ensure you’ve established the appropriate mind set for the situation.

As the technology involved with both science and sports continues to evolve, the importance of coupling your physical training with mental training grows to. This study focuses on cognitive stress management training, and its impact on performance, in youth volleyball players. The study found that a treatment group, who were exposed to stress management training (SMT) “emitted fewer negative thoughts in response to videotaped stressors and had superior service reception performance in a controlled practice compared to the control group.”

Similarly, these brain maps, which analyse the difference between professional and amateur poker players, reveal that one of the key factors attributed to high level performance is being able to manage your emotions.

A lot of seemingly mediocre athletes actually have the capability to achieve great things but simply haven’t been taught how to train their mind to the same level as their body. So what are the qualities that make some athletes so much better than others? 

Mental toughness

It may seem defeatist to say it but it’s highly unlikely for everything to go your way in any kind of competitive event and a certain level of mental toughness is required to pull through those situations and come out victorious. Take the 2013 Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final for example, Andy Murray came back from losing three championship points in the third set, to take the title in a straight sets win.

Although sport is emotional, when playing it’s important to be able to block out the emotion in order to make way for a single-minded focus on success.

Self-belief

Unfortunately, in sport losing is inevitable at some point or another. You can be the best in the world and at some point that winning streak has to come to an end. That doesn’t mean you’re no longer capable though. Equally, just because you’re not winning from the word ‘go’ doesn’t mean you’re not capable either.

All great athletes have a simple skill which allows them to learn from setbacks while not letting their ability to succeed be affected. Just think, one bad day at the office doesn’t mean you can’t do your job, and the same applies in sport.

Having self-belief in your ability to do well will pull you through the bad times and also encourage your team mates to believe in you too.  

Defining a champion is no easy feat, but one thing’s for sure, you need a strong personality, skill in your sport and an understanding of how to manage stress and banish negative thoughts in order to succeed.