1. Find a supportive and encouraging mentor who holds you accountable and promotes growth.1

2. Express gratitude to your loyal supporters. Make the receiver’s day while increasing your own well-being and self-esteem!2

3. Deepen the level of trust and quality in your relationships by picking up the phone instead of texting or sending an email.3

4. Improve your performance with mental imagery. Important meetings or conversations on the horizon? Practice performing your best prior with imagery beforehand. A recent study on youth baseball players found that mentally rehearsing their swing at different speeds resulted in improved swing performance. The most effective combination was mentally rehearsing the desired behavior in three ways: in slow-motion, in real time, and then in fast-motion.4

5. Happy with your employees or team players and want to retain them? Leaders, including coaches and managers, need to focus on helping their employees develop a “growth mindset” that engages them in a process of continually learning and growing. This is achieved when leaders and coaches encourage players to focus on the process and skill development rather than outcome alone. In addition, be aware of employees with “fixed mindsets” who struggle with fears of making mistakes or perfectionistic tendencies. These are ineffective tools that ultimately hinder and hurt performance and productivity.5, 6

6. Embrace change to increase mental toughness. Drive to the office using a new route, rearrange your office furniture, or put new pictures or motivational quotes in your office space. The brain loves stimulation!1

7. Continually push yourself to grow and become even more efficient/creative/generous/successful. Once a tasked is mastered, set the bar a little higher (just a little, too much leads to frustration) and the mind will respond positively and grow mentally stronger.1

8. Coaches and trainers, replace controlling behaviors (e.g., overt control, criticism and controlling statements, and tangible awards for interesting tasks that reduces intrinsic motivation) with autonomy-supportive approaches and behaviors. Autonomy-supportive approaches include providing:
– choice within specific rules and limits (along with a rationale for tasks and limits),
– players and employees opportunities to take initiative and engage in independent work,
– non-controlling competence feedback (say “Great job! I look forward to seeing continuing to grow and develop” instead of “Great job! I’ll play you more often if you play like this in the next game”),
– and, acknowledging the feelings and perspectives of others, .7

9. Get comfortable riding the up and down waves of learning and progress as you move towards excellence.8


  1. Lee Crust & Peter J. Clough (2011) Developing Mental Toughness: From Research to Practice, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 2:1, 21-32, DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2011.563436
  2. Lung Hung Chen & Chia-Huei Wu (2014) Gratitude Enhances Change in Athletes’ Self-Esteem: The Moderating Role of Trust in Coach, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26:3, 349-362, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2014.889255
  3. Porges, S. W. (2001). The polyvagal theory: phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42: 123-146.
  4. Jenny O, Frank Oliver Ely & Sam Magalas (2019) It’s all about timing: An imagery intervention examining multiple image speed combinations, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2019.1570391
  5. M. Blair Evans, Matthew Vierimaa, Ross Budziszewski & Scott A. Graupensperger (2019)Coach Expectations and Athlete Lay Beliefs: Interactions when Predicting Adolescent Athletes’ Enjoyment and Intentions to Return, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2019.1570392
  6. Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Evangelos Galanis, Nikos Zourbanos & Yannis Theodorakis (2014)Self-talk and Competitive Sport Performance, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26:1,82-95, DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2013.790095
  7. Mageau, G. and Vallerand, R. 2003. The coach–athlete relationship: A motivational model. Journal of Sports Sciences, 21: 883–904.
  8. MacNamara, A., Button, A. and Collins, D. 2010b. The role of psychological characteristics in facilitating the pathway to elite performance part 2: Examining environmental and stage-related differences in skills and behaviors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24: 74–96.

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