Mental Skills for Athletes: Handling Problems

When encountering difficulties or roadblocks, don’t crumble, don’t broadcast it beyond its relevancy.

If the swimming pool is closed, that’s out of your control. Don’t convince yourself your training is ruined, instead go for a run or spend your time in other ways. Don’t focus on the problem.

Don’t let the little things consume you and distract you from your goals. Focus on the things you control. If you make mistakes, analyze them, learn from them and file them away.

If the problem is out of your control, stop and think how to react. How can you best spend your emotional and physical energy in response? Hint: it’s not sulking or getting frustrated!

Our training – and our lives in general – will never be 100% free of imperfect events. The key is tackle the issue, keep it small, learn from it (if relevant) and move on.

Mental Skills for Athletes: Be Confident

Are you confident?

In sports, we come across a lot of ultra confident people. Some “type A” personalities, some big egos, but also a lot of people who are confident in their skin.

We can also develop and increase our confidence by practicing it.

Do the activities you excel at, and enjoy them, congratulate yourself. Savor your victories (no matter how small).

Remind yourself of your skills, the work you have put in, and all your achievements. These will help grow your confidence.


And always think of your support network: your friends, family, coach, team mates who all believe in you.

Mental Skills for Athletes:

We all encounter anxious moments.

Maybe it has been a while since we hit a personal best in a race. Perhaps our first attempt at a new distance is coming up soon. Maybe you are not seeing improvements in an area you are working.

You are not alone, remember that.

Focus on recent victories. Talk to your coach, your teammates, family and friends. Just voicing the concerns will help reduce your fears and remind you why you are encountering them.


Anxious moments are normal for those of us who push ourselves out of comfort zone. Don’t fear them, push on through, they make the victories all the more sweet.

Mental Skills for Athletes: We All Make Mistakes

Mistakes: we all make them.

Don’t dwell on them. Be it a poor swim, a slow transition, poor nutrition, analyze it, and table it. Use it and move on.

Mistakes are a great way to learn and to improve. Use them to make gains next time.

Give yourself a break, don’t be too negative. Know that as we push ourselves to the next level we often have to take one step back to earn the two steps forward.

There will be down days as you push yourself towards your goals, but remind yourself that you pick up speed on every downhill.

What 200 Calories Look Like in Different Foods

Here’s a photo series showing how much of a given food you get for 200 calories. As you think about your training and race day nutrition, check out the benefits of eating well vs junk food.

Being able to visualize how much of a given food pays back in calories might help you make decisions come snack or meal time.

Vegetables are good value for calories. And I know I’d rather eat three eggs than eight Hershey’s kisses.

Nutrition is a key part of training and racing triathlon. Use these photos to guide your diet and decision making.

What does 200 Calories Look Like?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

How many calories are there in the foods you eat?

Mental Skills for Athletes: Wins

Write down all your past wins, accomplishments, successes.


They can be minor, or massive.


Victory Pt. 2 by Anthony DeLorenzo on Flickr

Your list will be long.

Read this list often.

Remember the thrill you got in each win (big or small). All the effort became worth it and the struggles inconsequential.

Remember your skills, your commitment, the effort you put in and the sacrifices you made.


And remember the next win is just around the corner.

Mental Skills for Athletes: Confusion

We’ve all had those days when we get caught up in conflicting options.

On the one hand, we want one option.

But then, on the other hand, the opposite choice looks better.

Unsure by Jason on Flickr

Unsure by Jason on Flickr


If this is a regular struggle, you should look to structure your life to eliminate the confusion and lack of clarity.

Make a plan. Plan your week. Know when you swim, run, bike, do yoga, eat, nap, have a day off. Make decisions in advance and avoid decision paralysis, or the temptation to skip workouts.

Don’t chase too many options. Keep things simple.

Doing this will increase your focus, reduce confusion and mixed signals, and allow you to maximize what you get out of each day – be it work, training, family, hobbies or life in general.

Mental Skills for Athletes: Onwards and upwards

Many athletes assume that the road towards their goals begins at the very bottom and moves gradually upward.

This is not the case!

The path towards your goals will never be smooth. There will be setbacks, disappointments, ruts and frustrations along the way.

Ups and downs. You will feel you are going backwards at times.

The key is to never get stuck, keep pushing forward.

Check in regularly and evaluate your progress towards your goals. Setbacks like a bad race, or a poor swim, are easy to spot and fix, but longer periods of stagnation are harder to tackle.

Keeping a training diary will help identify when you are stuck. Revisit your good days to give you a confidence boost, and always focus on moving upwards – even through the down periods.

Mental Skills for Athletes: Success

Success can sometimes breed complacency.

After a successful race, it can be easy to enjoy the glow of achievement a little too long.

You might allow yourself an extra few days off training or enjoy a few too many treats.

But remember: an easy goal does not exist.

Complacency tends to creep in across other activities, potentially delaying your success. No matter how good the last race was, stick to your plan and keep pushing towards your long-term goals.

Mental Skills for Athletes: Time

The things we want most in life tend to take time.

If you want to achieve your goals badly enough, much persistence might be needed and you may require several attempts to make it.

Be patient and don’t give up. Don’t push for too much, too soon. Build your base, which takes time. Refine your technique. Enjoy your progress, even in those dark winter days when you’re tired and everything is a hard slog.

Don’t let impatience or frustration get in the way of your goals. They may take time, but the effort you put in makes it all worthwhile.