When we talk about elite athletes we often hear about physical fitness. Coaches and trainers use physical fitness assessments as a way of measuring and tracking strength, agility, skills, and fitness level that will ultimately influence that athlete’s success in their sport. By having a baseline of physical fitness an athlete and his or her coaching team can create goals to motivate and direct training in order to improve on that baseline over the course of a season. Whether it be strength, cardiovascular endurance or flexibility- all are important aspects of an athlete’s success.
Now looking at this list I am noticing something that is missing from all of these fitness assessments- what about mental fitness. How come we do not widely accept this as a part of fitness testing for our athletes? And what might fitness testing look like if it were? My guess is that we would get a more complete and comprehensive reading of where an athlete stands and what they need to improve on to be more successful. If we had baseline values for self-esteem, anxiety, perfectionism, confidence, coping skills, imagery, and more, then we could give our athletes goals for improving their mental toughness as well as their physicality. We would be able to tailor a specific mental training program based on a particular athlete’s strengths and weaknesses- in the same way that a strength and conditioning coach might do based on an athlete’s physical fitness test results.
I can think of a big reason that this is not widely accepted at this point in time- and that being that there is a stigma towards psychological assessment- especially for apparently healthy and successful individuals. But what if it could really make our athletes better and more primed for success in their sport? I think it could be a really interesting avenue for some one to pursue within an elite sporting organization.