Mental toughness separates winners and losers

Mental toughness separates winners and losers

We have an epic Super Bowl coming this weekend that pits two great teams – the best offense against the best defense in the NFL.

I really expect a great game, but as always, one team will persevere, and it will be the one that wins the mental battle.

I point this out because the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series kicks off next week on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee pitting dozens of great fishermen against each other. At stake in the season-long battle are the coveted Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year title and a 2018 Bassmaster Classic invitation.

And like the Super Bowl, mental attitude will play a big role.

Although I follow the Detroit Lions, I’m a huge (New England Quarterback) Tom Brady fan, someone whom I have spent some time with.

I would never compare myself to Brady, but I admire his mental tenacity and poise. He’s been a winner even when he wasn’t surrounded by great players and that’s due to mental toughness as much as ability.

That’s a trait I’ve seen in all of the great sports figures I’ve been around. It doesn’t matter whether it’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Champions, NFL Pro Bowlers or NHL stars – they all have strong mental discipline.

You see that same grittiness among many of the top Elite anglers. We all have superb angling skills and the best equipment in the world, but oftentimes it’s the mental aspect of fishing that separates winners from losers.

Sure, it’s part preparation. Super Bowl players study film to gain knowledge of their opponents; we do map study and follow the weather to get a feel for what we might encounter next week.

But once practice starts on Monday – and at kickoff Sunday - it’s all about one’s ability to recognize changing conditions, focus on what’s around him and make wise decisions.

I can assure you that there will be anglers next week complaining about cold weather, fronts, low water and other conditions we may encounter.

The key is to turn those negatives into positives. Work them into your game plan and be tuned into any subtle, on-the-water change that may occur.

Again, I use Brady as an example. He sets the next play in the huddle. When he steps to the line, he must assess the opponent’s defensive alignment and make a snap decision as to whether the huddle play is the right one or to call an audible that will deliver a more successful outcome before the play clock runs out. That’s what makes him a successful quarterback.

Our success depends upon our ability to read the conditions, make the proper adjustments and do so without wasting time.

In some ways, our job might be a little tougher. A football game lasts around four hours. In an Elite event, we’re on the water seven days, including practice, and have eight hours of constantly being focused and making right decisions.

As important as the physical athletic aspect is in all sports, the mental toughness trumps everything else.

And that’s why I have always said, it’s all about the attitude!