May 23, 2024

When people think of sports, they usually consider the physical requirements, but it can be easy to overlook the mental aspect. However, remaining motivated is a significant aspect of any sport.

How are athletes able to push through such long seasons and master the mental aspect of sports that is important to any athlete’s success?

Dr. Ed Garrett, professor of sports and performance psychology, offered insight into the mental side of sports.

“Every student-athlete is going to struggle with something, whether it’s intrinsic or extrinsic,” Garrett said.

“Some might be dealing with finances and family issues, some may be dealing with disbelief in their abilities, a loss of self-efficacy. We spend so much time on the kinesthetic that we don’t spend time on the cognitive and the emotions associated with the performance.”

He offered advice for any athlete struggling with maintaining motivation in the face of adversity.

“You have to develop a very short-term memory when it comes to things,” Garrett said. “Having success today does not mean success is going to come tomorrow. Having failure today does not mean tomorrow is going to be a failure. Being present is critical.”

Garrett said that maintaining control over what is within an athlete’s power is crucial in gaining an upper hand in the mental game.

“Control the controllables,” Garrett said. “We can control our emotions, we can control our thoughts (and) we can control the behavior associated with those two. Work ethic falls into that, (and) grit and mentality start there intrinsically and bleed out from what we do from a behavioral response.”

Putting this advice into practice is easier said than done, but for junior Malik Wade and senior Tre Armstrong, both players for the men’s basketball team, it is something they live day in and day out.

“Being together over a long period of time, you start to play for each other, not just yourself,” Armstrong said. “You are motivated to make your teammates better and help your teammates succeed. If you’re only in it for yourself, you are going to burn out pretty quickly if things don’t go your way.”

Malik Wade shared his perspective and how it relates to his faith.

“My faith is everything for me,” Wade said. “It is bigger than me. Staying in the zone, for my teammates, my family and God, everything has a bigger purpose than just me.”

They also addressed how their experience differs from the rest of the student body and some of the benefits that help them push through the hard parts.

“It’s different from the average student because they come here specifically to get this degree from CBU and get to enjoy the rest that comes with it,” Armstrong said.

“I think for us, we’ve come to become better basketball players but also to grow as students and people as well, so it’s a win-win.”

Wade also pointed out that this college experience is the culmination of years of work and has helped him discover his purpose.

“I can’t let my teammates down, and I can’t let the college down either,” Wade said. “I need to do everything I can to get better every day. I started playing at 15 years old. Before that, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life. I started seeing the whole picture and I can be even better than that and special, so it really changed my view of the world.”

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