4 MIN READ | General

Jason Smith

How to Improve Mental Grit for an Optimal Sports Performance

Cite This
Jason Smith, (2018, September 23). How to Improve Mental Grit for an Optimal Sports Performance. Psychreg on General. https://www.psychreg.org/mental-grit/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are two kinds of people in every sports competition. One is that player who is physically able even at first glance and well-recognised after a historic action but doesn’t do any ‘wow’ effect after a few games. Another is the so-called late-bloomers who has less capability and out of the spotlight initially, but suddenly took the top step of the podium. 

For sure, the mass would chalk this up to bad luck or fate. However, sports psychology  explained that it’s the mental grit of the late bloomers that made this to happen, apart from the high-risk endeavour.

What’s mental grit? What must you do with it to improve your optimal sports performance? 

Mental grit

Mental grit is defined as one’s passion and perseverance in achieving a long-term goal. This ideology started when one research from the University of Pennsylvania conducted by Angela Duckworth has been published.

She claimed that one of the strongest predictors of success in accomplishing daily tasks or life goals is our mental grit. She also added that there are five general characteristics of being gritty as follows: 

  • Have courage
  • Be conscientious (achievement-oriented vs dependable)
  • Have long-term goals and endurance (follow through)
  • Be resilient (optimism, confidence and creativity)
  • Distinguishes excellence from perfection and vice versa

In short, gritty people don’t know how to give up – and this is deemed necessary in sports. If you checked any sports history, many big-time players started with humble beginnings before they became what they are now. 

How to get mental grit is elusive though, as what Duckworth admitted. Unlike being physically fit, there’s no specific requirements and measurements to be gritty because it depends on the doers. That’s why we’ve mentioned ‘five general characteristics’ above. Nevertheless, the following  are the other ways how to be gritty. 

Envision what you want to achieve

Don’t base your aim from other people’s goals. Every person has individual preferences and strengths. Sure, others would inspire you, and you may end up thinking: ‘I want to be like that person.’ However,  you are you. You may follow the same path as others, but you would surely have different difficulties and achievements to go through. 

For instance, I bet you’ve experienced that moment when your parents want you to do something. You followed and achieved doing it. Your parents are happy, but you aren’t. You feel like something is missing. The next time they asked you to do something again, you don’t have the energy to do so. It’s because it’s not what you want. It’s what your parents want. 

Hence, be sure to have a clear vision. Are you doing this for yourself? Or are you doing it for other people? Is this what you really want? Or this is what other people want you to do? If you’re not sure yet, take it easy.

Mental grit won’t immediately happen overnight, so as your definition of it. Go with the flow for now, but once you’ll realise what you want, seize it. 

Build confidence

One research reveals that physically fit individuals can better withstand the daily stress of life. They tended to have better and higher self-esteem compared to their less physically able counterparts. 

One way to keep fit is to eat healthily. While going for healthier food choices prevents and treat physical conditions, well-balanced nutrition is necessary for fitness as well. If you’re not into eating but wanted to stay fit, don’t sweat it. Dietary supplements are everywhere in the market now. Below are a few of the latest nutrient supplementation trends for fitness. 

Protein supplements or powders

Protein is necessary for muscle growth. However, some people, especially vegans and vegetarians, don’t eat enough protein, so they often end up losing muscle mass. Good thing, various protein supplements or powders are now available in the market. 

Listed below are the seven types of protein powders or supplements to date made for various types of eaters (vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, allergic to eggs, etc.): 

  1. Whey protein (comes from milk, digests quickly)
  2. Casein protein (also comes from milk, but digests slowly)
  3. Egg protein
  4. Pea protein
  5. Hemp protein
  6. Brown rice protein 
  7. Mixed plant protein

Green superfood powders 

Multivitamins are now becoming less mainstream. Nowadays, green superfood powders are bucking the trend for fitness. For any nutrient that a multi ironically lack, green superfood powders can provide it. 

Typically, green powders contain antioxidants, probiotics, digestive enzymes, adaptogens, and chlorophyll, as well as other plant ingredients  such as wheat grass barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, and milk thistle. Surely, you haven’t heard these from the ‘supplement facts’ of your multis, have you? For more information, check green superfood powder reviews

Moreover, now you know why physically fit people have that certain confident aura everywhere they go. It’s because one’s confidence is nurtured when he cultivates and maintains his overall  physical fitness and wellness.  

Exceed your limit

Now that we’re building confidence and in the process of getting fit. You should know that all of us have this brain’s neurotransmitter called dopamine that spikes whenever an unanticipated event turned out to be great. It’ll send signals to your brain saying, ‘you have to focus so you can get that excellent results again.’ Then, you’ll end up to be naturally psyched.  

But here’s the catch. We tend to get easily over to that positive feeling, so our dopamine levels will more likely sink and we’re getting less motivated to hop back in the saddle. It’s always like that – everyone goes off track. However, you shouldn’t always be like that.

That’s the time you have to ‘manually’ raise the bar for yourself.  You’ll rest, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to stop. We must turn setbacks around, go back to step one, and remember why you’re even doing it to achieve success. Strengthen your motivation by identifying how to circumvent failure. Keep trying until you exceed your limit – this is grit.


Jason Smith did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh.  He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being. 


Psychreg is mainly for information purposes only; materials on this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Don’t disregard professional advice or delay in seeking  treatment because of what you have read on this website. Read our full disclaimer

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