How To Challenge Yourself In Training?

Sports Psychology Tips: How To Challenge Yourself In Training?

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The level of intensity of your training is very important

Do you find it tough to say motivated to practice and train at a high level throughout the off season and into the competitive season?

Practice and training can be samey and boring at times, depending on the sport.  Sometimes sessions can be long and never-ending.  Seasons can be lengthy too.  Throw in setbacks and difficulties, perhaps a loss of form, injuries, financial worries or discomfort can all take their toll.

During the year a lot of time and energy is needed.  Pressure and stressors exist in and out of sports… and there are many distractions around us.  

Take the current coronavirus pandemic.  How has that affected your motivation or your focus?  Maybe you know you won’t be competing for a few months…

So when you consider everything into the mix, it can be very easy to make excuses.  Excuses to miss a practice or training session.  It can also be very easy to go into a session on autopilot not giving it your full attention. 

Comments that I’ve heard time and time again from athletes and coaches include:

  • It’s only practice.  It’s not the real thing.
  • The weather is too cold.
  • I’m not competing for a while so will miss practice today.
  • I have so much to do today, I’ll skip training.
  • I’ve a niggle in my leg and will be better resting it.
  • I’m just don’t have the time today to practice.
  • I’m not 100% today, I’ll give training a miss.
  • I still perform well when I compete, so it doesn’t matter if I miss today.

Do any of these comments sound familiar?

Excuses or distractions can mean that you don’t achieve your potential.  They can become habits and these habits can have a big impact on your performances in the long term and the reason that some athletes don’t achieve their goals.  

What is the goal of training?

It could be argued that it is to challenge you so that you push yourself to ensure that when you compete, the pressure is something that you are used too.

When you challenge yourself it prepares you to be at your best in competition.  Top athletes, can push in training so much that competing seems much easier physically and mentally.  

A question for you?  In the last month, on a scale of 1-10 how challenging has your practice or training been?

For some ideas on this why not listen to European Tour Golfer, Chris Paisley talking about challenging himself.

“We tried to figure out what would get me nervous when I’m practicing.  We came up with the idea of doing a track man test that if I didn’t score above 90 points then I’d have to do some sort of punishment, stuff like doing 20 press ups on the range.  The thought of me practicing around people and not passing the test and then dropping down and doing 20 press ups in front of everyone is not good.  I didn’t want to have to do that because of the embarrassment factor…… so I found on the last shots it got those nerves going for me….” 

Challenging yourself in this sort of way in practice or training, can really help harness the mental toughness that you require to achieve your potential.

How do I go about challenging myself?

This comes down to firstly, recognising why you play your sport.  

Start now by answering these 7 questions.

  1. I play (my sport) because …
  2. When I’m in love with (my sport) I … 
  3. It is really exciting when …. happens.
  4. I find the best training sessions are when …
  5. I find the best practice sessions are when …
  6. I love competing because …
  7. In clutch situations when the pressure is on I feel … 

Now that you’ve done this you will be more clear about your purpose.  If you aren’t I suggest that you get in touch for a chat!

Secondly, now make a note of things that you can do to challenge yourself so that you add some pressure and intensity to your training or practice.

Or if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches. 

You can also join our community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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