January 20, 2015

How Mental Toughness Training Gives the Competitive Edge - Sport Psych for the Super Bowl

How Mental Toughness Training Gives the Competitive Edge - Sport Psych for the Super Bowl

The NFL playoff games had fans on the edges of their seats to see who will play in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks and Patriots have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of the year. Both teams have proven to be physically capable of this challenge so it will be the team with the greatest mental toughness who will take home the Lombardi Trophy.

Dr. Michele Kerulis, Director of IAE Sport Psychology Athletic Enhancement, provides insight into what the Seahawks and Patriots will need to do to stay mentally tough during the Super Bowl.

The game is not over until it’s over 

As we saw during the Packers-Seahawks game, it is not done till it’s done! Athletes must remain in the moment and have faith that they can overcome defeat. Teams who “have heart” have the motivation and drive to work hard until the end of the game. It takes mental toughness to come back against a big lead. Staying positive is the mental toughness skill that comes in handy here.

Focus on what you can control 

There are so many factors in sports that are outside the control of the athletes like unfavorable weather, officials’ calls, and the other team’s actions. Players must have the ability to let go of previous plays and control their emotions related to the plays. Remaining angry about a previous play will distract athletes from focusing on the next aspect of the game. Mentally tough athletes have the ability to immediately refocus and keep their heads in the game.

Managing high-pressure situations

The key to managing high pressure situations is to stay calm and remain focused on the current play. Athletes can become distracted by the intensity of the situation which results in decreased focus, inability to execute basic plays, and increased anxiety. Learning to manage pressure will be vital during the Super Bowl.


Clear and consistent communication is needed for successful teamwork. Understanding how to communicate verbally and non-verbally is critical in high-pressure games.

Team cohesion

The teams have had the entire season to build working relationships and to learn how each athlete will react to a variety of situations. Cohesion is the ability to stick together, through good plays and bad, and remain committed to the goals of the team.

Play a consistent game

Putting 100% effort during the entire game is not only physically taxing, it is mentally exhausting. Championship teams have the ability to persevere through physically and mentally challenging games. Imagine what the game would have looked like had the Seahawks played the entire game the way they played in the 4th quarter.    

Mental toughness training will help move great athletes to phenomenal athletes.  It takes practice to gain the benefits of sport psychology consultation.  Having the mental edge over your competitor takes time, effort, and dedication. In two weeks the nation will watch two of the best teams in the NFL play for the right to be called Super Bowl Champions. The nation is excited to see who will take home the title on Feb. 1st.

For more information about sport psychology and mental toughness training please contact IAE Sport Psych.


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