Skip To Main Content

Confidence to Soar: Mental Strength in Athletics

Confidence to Soar: Mental Strength in Athletics

Second Baptist Athletic Fellows Ella Allen ‘25 and Annie Rawn ‘24 brought in Coach Cassidy Linton, a mental sports performance coach, to address their fellow student athletes. Director of Athletics Mike Walker observed that this event brought about “great conversations about maximizing effort and limiting distractions for SBS athletes from a Christ-centered approach.”

Cassidy Linton is a certified mental coach at Total Athlete 365, where she is passionate about guiding athletes’ abilities to improve decision-making and health habits in life and in sports, while growing spiritually. An athlete herself, Cassidy focuses on what she has personally experienced in the world of competitive athletics, including performance anxiety, confidence and the benefits of a positive mindset.

Second Baptist Athletic Fellows share the purpose of their initiative.

What inspired each of you to bring Coach Linton to SBS?

Ella: Throughout my time playing sports, I have seen many highly talented teammates struggle under the pressure to perform. Second Baptist School has an incredible athletics department filled with dedicated coaches who love us and help us strive for excellence athletically. I was inspired to bring Coach Linton to SBS to bring more awareness to the mental side of sports. Throughout multiple sessions, Coach Linton shared valuable mental tools to help our SBS athletes compete confidently. 

Annie: Personally, I have really struggled with performance anxiety and allowing pressures off the court to influence and undermine my performance on the field and on the court. I have had to work through my own mental health challenges and seek outside help; with that in mind, I really wanted to provide my fellow athletes with a resource to combat their own mental struggles concerning athletics. The mental part of sports is huge and can make or break an athlete's performance.

What were the biggest takeaways from Coach Linton’s presentation?

Annie: My biggest takeaway was Coach Linton’s practical advice, such as her “song statement,” a phrase you choose to repeat in your head in a high-pressure moment. The song statement centers your mind on one, positive thing or affirmation, and it limits distractions from creeping in and causing doubt. 

Ella: In order to be prepared to compete externally in games, athletes must compete with themselves internally in practice every day. Setting challenging goals for ourselves allows for improvement and the development of a strong mindset. By competing with ourselves, we gain confidence in our abilities, which translates into confidence on the court under pressure.

In your personal experience, how can an athlete's mental approach affect performance?

Ella: I have personally struggled with performance anxiety and perfectionism, which caused me to doubt my skills in the face of competition and lose focus when I made a mistake. A mental approach that allows me to reframe my intentions after making a mistake enables me to play with confidence and freedom from the fear of failure.

Annie: Often when I am overwhelmed, anxious thoughts negatively affect my performance. But, when I have talked to someone about how I am feeling, I am able to compartmentalize and prioritize my thoughts. This frees my mind to focus on the task or game in front of me.

Annie is grateful for the experience. “I highly recommend mental training for any athlete. Whether now or later, many people will struggle with mental pressure. Knowing how to deal with that pressure can completely change someone’s performance. Also from a broader perspective, knowing how to compartmentalize and juggle different outside and internal pressures is a priceless skill in life.”