How to Train Your Brain to Succeed in Sports

Luke Jacobello, Staff Writer

Although success in sports has somewhat to do with your athletic abilities, the brain plays more of a role than anything else. Having the right mindset can help you be the best athlete you can be. On the flip side, having the wrong mindset could limit your potential, and make you seem like you’re not as good as you really are. Here are some things to think about before and during any athletic event and they will certainly help you maximize your capability.  


         Before the game (match, race, etc.):

  1. Before any game, try not to worry about how well you are going to perform. A little worry doesn’t hurt as it may help you prepare for the game, but if you are worrying too much, you may start to doubt yourself and lose self-confidence. Don’t worry about the outcome because you can’t really control that yet. Some professional athletes, before a game, listen to music to help block out the negative voices in their heads. Others may take naps in order to relax their bodies and minds. Do something that takes your mind off of those nervous feelings.
  2. Make sure you have all your stuff ready. If you are driving to a meet or a game, make sure you have all your equipment or whatever you need to compete. This will help you focus on just the game without having to worry about forgetting something. 
  3. Eat a good meal before the competition. Make sure you are energized and ready for the game. The mind does not work best when it is hungry. Having a healthy and nutritious meal beforehand can help get your mind and body prepared for the game so that both are working as best they can.
    During the game:
  4. Do not think about anything else other than the game. Do not think about how much homework you have to do when you get home. Do not think about how your mom is going to yell at you if you don’t play well. Just be in the moment. Focus on catching the ball or shooting the puck or saving the shot. Being in the moment will make sure that you are exerting all of your mental energy on the game itself.
  5. Do not worry about making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the best athletes make mistakes. So why are you afraid? If you make a mistake, don’t sweat it! Learn from it and try it again. Mistakes will help you improve if you think about them the right way. If you dwell on your mistakes and play scared because of them, you are limiting your potential. 
  6. Focus on playing your best. The only thing you can control in a game is your effort. You can’t control the score of the game, you can’t control how many goals you can score, etc. However, if you give your maximum effort, good results will come. 


Sports are proven to be 20% body, 80% mind. The way you think can make or break your performance. Your mindset can elevate your game to levels you haven’t even thought of. There is a saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” A motivated individual with the right mindset could defeat a more talented individual with the wrong mindset. Your brain plays the most important role in sports, a bigger role than many people think.