There is no shortage of elite professional athletes of all types who have made extremely compelling statements with respect to the role that sport psychology, performance improvement and mental toughness play in personal and team sport outcomes.

“Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.” – Bobby Knight, former NCAA basketball coach

“A healthy mind in a healthy body is the foundation of mental toughness and resilience.” – Kobe Bryant, NBA player

“Sports is 90% mental and 10% physical.” – Yogi Berra, former MLB player

“The biggest battle is not on the field, it’s in your mind. You have to believe you can perform at a high level.” – Joe Torre, former MLB player and manager

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” – Carl Lewis, Olympic track and field athlete

And, personal favorites from inspirational TV and film:

“You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.” – Ted Lasso

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

– Rocky Balboa

Athletes & Performers: Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Sports Psychology & Performance Improvement to Advance Your Game

Simply put, sports psychology is the study of how psychological factors affect athletic performance. It’s all about getting inside the athlete’s head and figuring out how to make them perform better. Sport psychology providers use a variety of techniques to help athletes improve their mental game, from visualization and relaxation techniques to goal setting and positive self-talk. It includes the education of athletes and team leadership on crucial skills; including personal awareness, mindset, emotional regulation, self-talk and anxiety mitigation, to name a few. Grow Sport Psychology and Performance Improvement can also be a wonderful tool for athletes to not only excel in their sport, but also socially, within their family system and in their jobs given the impact on personal confidence and achievement potential.

Athletes are clearly no exception among populations that are impacted by a high degree of mental strain to accomplish their objectives or those someone may have for them. There is tremendous pressure that comes with competition. And, initially from most, when we ask them how they are doing, the default vocal response is almost inevitably, “YES,” while their face says NOT AT ALL.  Most athletes have been historically very reticent to acknowledge a mental health or psychological set-back that is impacting their life and performance doing what they theoretically love. Consequently, we often hear a lot of, “I don’t have those mental issues or problems, so why should I pursue sport psychology support?” Good point if you have been taught that help is weakness.

In reality, however, Sport Psychology is not something utilized only when you as an athlete or team encounter internal or external struggle.

So why is sports psychology important? Well, let me put it this way. In the world of sports, every little advantage counts. The difference between a gold medal and a silver medal can be a fraction of a second. The difference between making the playoffs and missing them can be a single game. And often, the difference between winning and losing comes down to mental toughness.

That’s where performance improvement comes in. Performance improvement is all about helping athletes reach their full potential. It’s about identifying their strengths and weaknesses and developing a plan to maximize their performance. This can involve a variety of techniques, from improving their physical conditioning to working on their mental game.

So, how can sports psychology and performance improvement help athletes? Well, let’s take a look at some concise examples.

First, let’s talk about visualization. Visualization is a technique where athletes imagine themselves performing at their best. By visualizing success, athletes can increase their confidence and reduce anxiety. This can translate into better performance on the field or in the arena.

Another technique is positive self-talk. Positive self-talk involves using affirmations to build confidence and reduce negative thoughts. By repeating positive phrases to themselves, athletes can improve their mental game and perform better under pressure.

But it’s not just about the mental game. Sports psychology can also help athletes improve their physical performance. For example, sports psychology providers can work with trainers to develop training programs and coaches that are tailored to the athlete’s individual needs. By focusing on areas where the athlete needs improvement, they can help them become stronger, faster, and more agile.

In addition, sports psychology providers can help athletes deal with injuries. By providing support and guidance during the recovery process, they can help athletes get back to peak performance more quickly.


  1. You nearly always perform better in practices and in lower pressure situations than in games
  2. You feel that you are not getting better at your sport no matter how much time you put in
  3. You feel wavering confidence, which can be quite low at times and impact how you look at your capabilities as a human and athlete
  4. You struggle to move on from a mistake or bad play on the field
  5. You struggle with motivation because of the emotional exertion required to try to be the best athlete you can be
  6. You constantly fear failure and expect to make mistakes
  7. You no longer enjoy sport the way you used to when the competition was not as consuming

Our Sport Psychology and Performance Improvement team at Grow Sport Psychology & Performance Improvement in Naperville, Illinois is all about helping athletes, coaches, clubs and teams reach their full potential. By improving their mental and physical game, athletes can gain a competitive edge and achieve success on the field or in the arena. And remember, whether you’re a professional athlete or just a weekend warrior, there’s always room for improvement.

Learn more about our service offerings today that will take your game, club, team and coaches to the next level at [email protected]. Elite performance delivered!

And, NEVER forget:

“Your body can only take you as far as your mind will let it.” – Sarah Sellers, professional marathon runner

“You can’t put a price on mental health, but you can definitely see the cost of not taking care of it.” – Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast

“Ignoring your mental health is like driving a car without oil – eventually, the engine will break down.” – Novak Djokovic, professional tennis player

“Sports psychology is like a secret weapon for athletes.” – Carli Lloyd

“Sports psychology is about understanding the mind and how it works, and then using that knowledge to help athletes perform at their best.” – Michael Johnson

“Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.” – Rocky Balboa


By: Adam Ratner, LCSW, MBA


Grow Sports Psychology & Performance Improvement would be humbled to support you on your journey towards mental wellness and toughness in pursuing your dreams as a high-level athlete or performer. We have a tremendous staff of highly trained sports and performance psychology that are here to support you as an athlete, improve cohesiveness and performance within your team or club and elevate the quality of your coaches to create a healthy, competitive, and supportive environment for top performers. We will provide you and your club with the necessary mental skills, resources, and tools to elevate the quality of performance on the field.

Please contact us today at [email protected] to learn more about our service offerings, past clients and impact.