Mind Over Matter

The phrase, "mind over matter" means to use your mental strength to overcome physical challenges and reach a goal. It is a key component of mental toughness, which is the ability to reach and maintain peak performance through a variety of physical and mental stressors.

This type of mental toughness is important because in order to reach the top levels of sports, you have to overcome many physical challenges, such as physical limitations, fatigue, perception of effort, and pain. Everyone deals with these things, so the ones who are able to overcome them the best by putting their mind over matter are the ones who will reach the most success.

Too often, athletes underestimate the power of their mind. They become slaves to their bodies and make excuses to why they can't reach certain heights. They say they don't have enough physical talent or their opponent is too good. They say they're too tired, sore, or hurt. They say they didn't have a good week of practice. They say they didn't get enough sleep or they didn't eat properly. They say there's too much pressure or distractions. They say the game is boring because the opponent is too weak. Or they blame their performance on teammates, coaches, or the refs.

All these excuses lower their confidence in what they're able to achieve in games. They may think, "I won't be able to play my best because I didn't get enough sleep." Or they may say, "I'm so tired, I can't go any longer." This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by lowering their confidence and motivation, which hurts their performances and causes them to fail.

Physical factors obviously make a big difference in our performance, but they're not the only factor. Mental toughness plays more of a factor than people think. There are limits to the power of the mind, but if you're motivated enough and focus your mind in the best way possible, you can endure and overcome so much more than you think. You can learn more about mastering the skills of mind over matter in the book, How Bad do you Want it? For now, I just want to say that in order to put your mind over matter, you first must believe it's possible to put your mind over matter, and you must be determined to do so! Even if your excuses are valid, you need to rise above them and give your best effort! Understand that most excuses are not valid at all. In these cases, you need to reject the excuses that pop in your head and keep pushing yourself to reach higher heights!

However, this is not to say that the physical factors are not important. It is just as bad to underestimate the physical components of sports as it is to underestimate the mental and emotional components of sports. Part of this is because the mind and body are highly interconnected. The mind is only as good as the body that it is a part of, and the body is only as good as the mind that controls it. Also, you can only use your mental toughness in games if you first develop your mental toughness in practice.

The best athletes respect both the physical and mental factors of performance. They do everything in their control to prepare their body to perform at its highest level. They are very diligent with their fitness training, physical recovery, sleeping patterns, diet, and physical warm-up before games. They want to make sure their body is in peak condition by the time the game starts. They don't skip all this physical preparation and tell themselves, "I'll just put my mind over matter and perform just as good as my competition." This is just an excuse to be lazy. The best athletes do both things! They prepare physically, and they also put their mind over matter in games. As a result, they reach a higher performance level than the athletes that only prepare physically or only put their mind over matter.

If you want to reach your potential as an athlete, you need to respect both your mind and your body. Don't overvalue or undervalue either your mind or your body. Prepare physically as best as you can, but don't obsess about it. Then once the game starts, reject all excuses, and use all of your mental strength to get the most out of yourself!