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In 2015-16, there were 946 varsity and close to 3,000 club student athletes enrolled at the University of Michigan. This is a significant population that has unique challenges that other students may not encounter.

The general culture of athletics often teaches that you are meant to forge ahead and overcome all challenges in your way. Losing is often not considered to be an option. While this may be true in competition, you are not meant to be in competition with your mind. The mind directly impacts the body and performance, so athletes' mental health is equally as important as their physical health.

Whether you are a varsity or club athlete, the unique expectations of an athlete's life on top of everyday student responsibilities can create unforeseen difficulties. It is important for athletes to know these specific challenges that are triggered or exacerbated by their involvement in athletics, and to know what to do about them.

8 Ways to Win with Your Head

  1. Understand what you are feeling throughout the competition.
  2. Build your confidence through repetition and reflection.
  3. Practice like you play.
  4. Visualize the adversity...Overcome the adversity.
  5. Concentrate on one play, one goal...Don't overload yourself.
  6. When the time comes...Perform, don't think.
  7. Sidestep the Big Choke...Understand the triggers to your downfall.
  8. Take time to evaluate yourself and set new goals.

(Adapted from Don Patterson, 2001)