4 Key Journal Strategies for Athletes

How a pen and a piece of a paper can be used in a variety of ways to strengthen your mental resilience.

Journaling is a relatively simple habit, despite the fact that there are hundreds of different methods to do it. The actual practice has actually been around since humans learned how to put their thoughts into words. All the great minds from history have journaled in some capacity including: Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marcus Aurelius, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, George Bernard Shaw and Maya Angelou.

Despite the praise for the practice from these titans of life, journaling is still an exceedingly rare habit. It’s something many tell themselves they should do but never actually get around to doing. Perhaps these individuals remain unconvinced that journaling has any merit or deserves the time commitment.

Countless studies conducted on the practice of journaling, all of which have concluded that journaling has unique health benefits for those that diligently long term including:

  • Stretching Your IQ.
  • Evoking Mindfulness
  • Achieving Goals
  • Developing Emotional Intelligence
  • Boosting Memory and Comprehension
  • Strengthening Your Self-Discipline
  • Improving Communication Skills
  • Building Mental Resilience

The benefits of journaling don’t just apply to general health and wellness but also elite athletic performance by improving and developing your most potent athletic asset: your mind.

(Related: Mindset Training For Competitive Athletes)

However, it is an important habit to develop should you wish to enhance your athletic performance and strengthen your mindset.

Here are four exercises you should engage in when writing in your journal daily to improve your mind for your athletic pursuits.

Positivity

Confidence is a choice. Use your journal to keep a record of your accomplishments. Everything from the smallest, seemingly insignificant wins to your biggest achievements of which you’re most proud. If you wish to TRULY be a champion, you must learn to only celebrate and remember these positive experiences, while learning from and letting go of the negative ones. Brick by brick, these accomplishments will help to build a solid foundation of confidence. While there’s no perfect correlation between optimism and success, there is an almost perfect correlation between pessimism and failure.

Gratitude

It’s no secret that gratitude is a game-changer when it comes to improving mood, but it’s also been tied to improved outcomes in sports as well. A good way to start is with the “three good things” exercise. Simply write down three good things that happen to you each day, however big or small, and what your part was in making them happen. Each week, review and compile the three best things that happened to you that week, then repeat this review each month and each year.

Goals

Focus on your big picture goals. Write them down every day. Strategize on the small things you can do every day to move you closer to your goals, whether it’s improving your water intake, or PR’ing a lift. Cultivate habits that move you closer to these big-picture goals each day and aim to eliminate those that don’t serve, or are in conflict with, the bigger picture of what you want to achieve.

Self Reflection

What did you learn in the past 24-hours that can move you closer to where you want to be? Are there things you could have done differently with a better outcome? Now is the time to reflect on, learn from, and let go of these things.


Whatever your athletic goals may be, you can certainly benefit from using a journal and engaging in the above exercises. Spend four nights writing about each of the above prompts.

Curious to learn more exercises and tips to help you improve your mental resilience? Check out this free guide: Mindset Training For Competitive Athletes    

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