When most folks think about challenging sports, their minds go straight to the physical element of the game. While that is crucial in determining a sport’s difficulty, it only paints half the picture. Looking at what sports are the most mentally demanding shines light on what’s happening between an athlete’s ears.
Flipping & Flopping: Gymnastics
Of all the sports that are the most physically impressive, gymnastics has to be the top dog in the field. If you want to debate that statement, you should find a pair of rings and try to keep them together when you feel the tension in your abdominal area from extending your legs outward. Swimming is the only sport that comes close to the punishment you put your body through.
Since gymnastics takes such a toll on your body, the mental wherewithal is also daunting. Add in the fact that you are on an island by yourself when you are on the mat, beam, bars, or rings, and that’s enough to make even a strong-willed person crack.
Being an elite gymnast requires vigilant self-discipline, considering a slight deviation could prevent you from completing a winning routine. To be able to take on all that and still flip around like an action figure that a child is playing with is quite the feat.
Strike Three: Baseball
Baseball is unique in that you do absolutely nothing during most of the game. A player should have around four at-bats and a handful of defensive plays, figuring a game is three hours long. Doing it all may only take 10 minutes, leaving you to anguish over every flaw of your game for the other two-plus hours.
It’s also difficult to wing it on the baseball diamond. You must put serious thought behind every at-bat. Studying the pitcher’s movement and learning their tendencies gives you the best chance for success at the dish; otherwise, you’ll be on the struggle bus.
Life’s Rough: Golf
Nothing makes golf a challenging sport physically, although few sports can compare to it mentally. Golf is the ultimate test of your will and determination.
Any little hiccup on the course could linger with you throughout the day, ultimately ruining your round. Before you know it, those par putts turn into double bogeys because you can’t forget about the drive you sliced in the woods on the fifth hole.
Luckily, you can use a golf simulator to replicate troubling situations on the links to help you through adversity. A simulator is particularly helpful because it allows you to practice indoors and focus solely on each shot, whereas the driving range still requires good weather.
Fists of Fury: Combat Sports
Several mental components of combat sports can be a drain. Firstly, you must overcome the fact that someone will punch you in the face and try to hurt you. Accepting that fact is something that only a select few can do.
Secondly, it takes diligent planning and a strategic game plan to be successful in the ring. You may feel like a champion wearing the right gear, but you must be precise in your actions. Waiting a fraction of a second could be the difference between knocking out your opponent and you lying on the canvass.
Detailing what sports are the most mentally challenging should give you an appreciation for any athletes that compete at the highest level. Next time you get upset about a player on your favorite team striking out looking or a golfer missing a four-foot putt, remember it’s not always easy to do what they do.