Book Title: 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins

Author: Jason Selk

Published: 2008

Read: 3rd December 2021

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This was honestly a great read, covering everything about mental training for an athlete without diving into unnecessary or lengthy details. In fact, you could apply a lot of these lessons to life outside of sport - including how to settle your emotional state, what you believe about yourself and how you face lifeโ€™s problems.

I know that certain athletes out there may not like this sort of thing, but I believe it is super valuable and has helped me a lot in my game. Read on for my summary of the novel.

Phase 1 - The Mental Workout

  • 1. Centering Breaths
    • Control the athletic arousal state to improve decision-making and performance. Lower the heart rate through 6-2-7 (6 seconds breathing in, 2 held, 7 to breathe out).
  • 2. The Performance Statement
    • Condense the advice your coach and you would give yourself in imagined big game moments to form specific statements. You may have multiple depending on the different skills needed in game moments.
  • 3. The Personal Highlight Reel
    • When visualising, use sight, sound and feel with a first-person camera angle to activate muscle memory. These should be short, frequent and complete from beginning to end of the process, including warm-up and desired result. Pause and replay if there are mistakes and give yourself credit upon success.
    • Choose three to five of your best past performances, each lasting between ten to twenty seconds, including your greatest sporting moment.
    • Using visualisation, create similar clips of your upcoming regular and elevated-pressure games or events. Incorporate as much detail as needed, but pay attention to your emotional state and importantly, operate at game speed.
  • 4. The Identify Statement
    • Over time, your performance will be regulated by your internal dialogue and belief in yourself - your self-image.
    • Create a two-part identity statement using the past-tense (aka you have already achieved it) โ€œI amโ€ฆโ€ for each half. Firstly, reference a strength you desire/ have that makes achieving success more likely. Secondly, state your desired outcome and go big - the more imposing the desired task, the more impact it will have on the self-image.
  • 5. Another Centering Breath and Away We Goโ€ฆ
    • A summary of your mental workout so far: 15 second centering breath, 10 second self-statement, 3 minutes of personal highlight reels, 10 second identity statement and importantly another 15 second centering breath to settle. Total time so far: less than 4 minutes.
    • Do this with intensity and focus, but if you need a break, take it - only perform at an ideal state.

Phase 2 - Goal Setting for Greatness

  • 6. Effective Goal Setting
    • Identify the difference between process goals, which are action-focused, and product goals, which are outcome-focused. In practice and games, process goals are far more helpful and achievable.
    • Create three levels of goals: Ultimate (which reflects your dream success), Product (results and statistics based) and Process (descriptions of the steps needed for a successful move). Go public with your goals to increase accountability.
    • Review your goals (especially product) pre and post-training and games. After sessions, write out what you did well, what you want to improve and how to improve. Use this writing before the next session as guidance.
  • 7. Personal Rewards Program
    • Answer a series of interview-like questions to determine your Ultimate goal. Additionally, acknowledge and write down the sacrifices needed and strengths you possess to push you to your product and process goals. This creates vision integrity, or alignment of your goals with daily positive life habits and behaviours.
    • Recognise your personal incentive style, and upon goal achievement reward yourself with material or experiential rewards. Upon achievement, create new goals so you are always in pursuit of your Ultimate goal.
  • 8. Tapping the Power of Goals
    • Effort in training creates prepared/ easy competition. Compare yourself with your best competitor (preferably not on your team), and be honest with how hard/ frequently/ comprehensively you train versus them. What changes do you need to make if they train harder?
    • Be cautious not to overtrain physically or mentally.
    • Use the MP100 + 20 formula as a guideline: complete 100% of your mental and physical workouts, then add 20% on your own where possible. This could be extra percentages of success, additional training or visualisation.

Phase 3 - Relentless Solution Focus

  • 9. Always Have a Solution on the Board
    • Having a solution-focused mindset rather than stalling problem-focused mindset not only makes you more likely to achieve success, but also means that even if you fall short you will gain experience, knowledge and satisfaction from knowing that you gave it your best shot.
    • Constantly push yourself into the solution-focused mindset during your pursuit of excellence. Adjust your mental workout where necessary to bolster deficits in your game.
  • 10. The Solution-Focused Tool
    • Ask the question โ€œWhat is one thing I can do that could make this better?โ€ to create improvement rather than chase perfection.
    • Employ the +1 concept: success can be achieved by meeting a string of basic, incremental goals in the present that will ultimately lead to excellence in the future.
    • Donโ€™t allow yourself to use the phrase โ€œI donโ€™t knowโ€. Be aware of the problem, then create steps to solve it.
    • As an example, overcoming injury can be an individualโ€™s greatest achievement and lead to success in all areas of life. Similarly, teams that have a shared solution-focused mindset will likely face success.
  • 11. Mental Toughness
    • A summary of the novel and steps in the mental workout.
10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins

If you found any information from the above summary useful, you can grab a copy of the book from the affiliate link above!

The Appendices provide worksheets for you to conduct yourself, and go into more detail on the periodisation (adjusting for time of year/ season) aspect of mental workouts. Similarly, this is followed by a Notes section which includes links to all the articles referenced.

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