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Mental Preparation For Athletes | Improve Your PB

Chris Appleton
Author & Editor7 years ago
View Chris Appleton's profile

Written by Gemma Seager 


"Mental Preparation Is The Key To Success"

When you start out it's easy to set a new personal best. Every day is your best day yet. You're fresh and making new gains all the time. Once you're established in your journey and working at more advanced levels, hitting a new personal best can take months of specific training, proper nutrition and mental preparation. It can be easy to get dejected and feel like you'll never get there, to give up and settle for the comfort zone. A bit of a change in attitude might be all you need to shift your training up a gear and hit a new PB.


Whilst training and nutrition play a huge part in any sport, your mental preparation can be the key component that makes the difference between achieving a new personal best, or hitting a plateau. Being better prepared mentally can give you the edge and make sure you keep growing and progressing.

mental preparation

How Do I Up My Game?

#1 Don't be afraid to fail

First and foremost, remember there will be a lot of failures on your way. The key is not to let failure trick you into giving up.

It's easy to look around and compare others successes with our failures. Keep trying, and one day you'll be one of those successes.

#2 Prepare mentally

Eating well, sleeping well and being physically prepared for the session ahead are generally key to your success, but can also be influenced by your mental state.

Spend some time before each training session using visualisation techniques to imagine yourself achieving your PB. Really picture the scene, the sounds, smells and how it feels. Research has shown this makes you more likely to achieve it.

#3 Think positive

A positive attitude is essential to performing at your best. If you don't believe you can do it, you probably can't!

Run through a mental “highlights reel” to remind yourself of past successes and create a positive and focused attitude before you even step in the gym. Use positive language when talking about your training and tell yourself what you will do, rather than what you won't do.

#4 Use a mantra

Using a personal mantra or statement is a long established method to help focus your mind and achieve your goals.

It should be short, performance based and use positive language. It might remind you of performance cues, like “strong core, fast feet” or be focused on your self image like “I am strong”.

#5 Set realistic goals

Your ultimate goal might be to deadlift 140kg, but if you're currently only lifting 40kg then leaping straight in can cause injury and set you up to feel like a failure.

Set smaller, incremental goals on the way to your ultimate goal.

You should set goals for each individual training session, and set process goals that will help you achieve them. Use our deadlift example to work on getting your form perfect at lighter weights, helping you scale up without injury.

#6 Track your progress

Keeping a training diary is one of the best things you can do to help mentally prepare for your next PB. Keep notes about how you feel, what else is going on in your life, and how you slept. Also, document your training regime and times.

If you have a bad session you may be able to correlate that with an intense day at work, or a bad nights sleep and it helps put your hard work and achievements in context.

You should note your goals in this journal before each session, to help you reflect.

#7 Get a training partner

Working with someone at a similar or slightly higher level than you can motivate you to push yourself a little bit harder. A bit of competition is healthy and you can appreciate and encourage each others progress, while allowing it to keep you working hard.

If you've been training a while it's easy to slip into the comfort zone and not push as hard as you could. A good training partner will help reinvigorate your motivation and keep you on your toes!

mental preparation

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Chris Appleton
Author & Editor
View Chris Appleton's profile
Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.