The Mentality Behind Successful Athletes


What is mentality? Simply defined mentality is “mental power or capacity; mode of way or thought.” So why is this important to you as an athlete or individual?  The best athletes in the world, from Lebron James to Lionel Messi, all have one thing in common: work ethic.  This work ethic is embodied through the ability to, as 3X USWNT Gold Medal winner Heather Mitts puts it, “outwork or outhustle anyone else on the playing field.”   Work ethic, drive, commitment, consistency- these all start with mentality.

Mental Strength helps turn Obstacles into Goals 

Being mentally strong is the hallmark of successful individuals. This not only applies to athletes, but to a variety of different fields. Mental strength comes from being able to get up when you get pushed down, from being able to try again after failing, to keep coming back in the face of adversity. Countless athletes have overcome obstacles, and then used them as motivation to mold themselves into who they are today. Some have overcome poverty, unstable neighborhoods, or personal demons, that have ultimately turned them into a better version of themselves. The ability to not let circumstances dictate character is a defining quality in successful individuals.

The Development of Mental Fortitude

One isn’t simply born with mental strength and fortitude– it is a skill, like any other, and can be honed over time. Just as the basics of sports can be practiced again and again, mental strength can also be developed so that no matter the obstacles that occur, either on the field or in life, you feel prepared. Similarly to skill,  mental strength grows in incremental stages.Over time, the situations and obstacles presented may become more complex and difficult.  However, the development of prerequisite mental strength allows an individual to handle these. Ultimately, the goal becomes to get through, learn from it and come back stronger. .

When learning how to improve your mental strength, take each rising situation as an opportunity to grow and better yourself. This is a skill that comes with time and practice. While working on progressing your mental state,  it is okay to be vulnerable to yourself and others. Never hide who you are as a person because you believe it shows mental toughness. Remember that being mentally tough is the ability to pick yourself back up after being knocked down in any aspect of life. Never let pressure dictate who you are or a choice you make. Being a mentally strong person/athlete will allow you to rise to the occasion and overcome any challenge laid before you.  

Mental Strength in Soccer

The same way mental strength helps individuals conquer obstacles, it can help athletes push themselves.  In any drill, practice, game or tournament, the mentality of a soccer player can help define the outcome.  Soccer is a sport dictated by focus, endurance, and the ability to transition between offense and defense quickly over the course of 90 minutes.  This requires consistency, preparation and work ethic- all of which start with mental strength.  This is a fact that Heather Mitts capitalized on, as her mental fortitude allowed her to overcome her lack of size, and push herself all the way to the US Women’s National Team.  After retiring, she founded Train Like Legends, to help guide the next generation of female athletes in her path.

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