The Best Mental Toughness Books For Athletes: 5 Resources for Focus and Mental Fortitude

Are you looking for an edge in your CrossFit training? Look no further than the space between your ears.

Sure, your body does the physical work; but your brain is responsible for the decisions you make leading up to, and during, your CrossFit training.

What are you doing to train your mind? If you’re doing nothing, you’re unlikely to ever meet your potential.

Training the mind is a lifelong discipline that yields benefits like better focus, increased mental toughness, increased awareness, and calmness.

The best time to start this training was yesterday, but yesterday is gone. That leaves today as the best day to get started.

Best Mental Toughness Books

In this article, we’ll look at 5 books about developing focus and mental toughness for CrossFit.

With these resources, you can develop your mind and increase your performance in the gym.

1. Chasing Excellence

By: Ben Bergeron

Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World's Fittest Athletes

What You’ll Learn: How to implement principles of your character into training.

“Success is a decision, not a gift.”

Ben Bergeron is one of the renowned coaches in CrossFit, so starting with his book is a no brainer.

Ben has trained some of the top CrossFit Games athletes, such as Katrin Davidsdottir.

In his book, he deconstructs what it means to be truly excellent, offering readers a simple (but not easy) approach to pushing the limits of one’s potential.

A great reader for CrossFit athletes, but also plenty of tie-ins for living life, too.

2. Extreme Ownership

By: Jocko Willink

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

“Discipline equals freedom.”

What You’ll Learn: Why everything is your responsibility, and how accepting that will change your life.

Jocko Willink is a former U.S. Navy Seal and well known for his popular podcast on leadership.

This book will increase your mental toughness by teaching you how to take responsibility for everything that happens to you.

By never allowing yourself to be a victim of circumstance, Jocko argues, you give yourself the best chance to achieve your goals in the gym, in business, and elsewhere.

3. Mindset

By: Carol S. Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

“I derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results.”

What You’ll Learn: How to foster a growth mindset conducive to achievement.

One of the most well known books in sport psychology, Mindset walks you through the amazing research behind a growth vs. fixed mindset.

Someone with a fixed mindset, for example, convinces themselves they will never get a handstand push-up.

They ask themselves questions like, “Why bother with CrossFit if I can’t be great at it?

A growth mindset, on the other hand, teaches you how anyone can benefit from perceiving challenges kind of like how children do- with open eyes, a willingness to learn, and a desire to always try new things.

4. The Inner Game of Tennis

By: W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

“The ability to focus the mind is the ability to not let it run away with you. It does not mean not to think—but to be the one who directs your own thinking.”

What You’ll Learn: How to use the voice in your head to achieve peak performance.

The classic book on peak performance, Gallwey introduces the idea of Self 1 and Self 2 in the mind.

We’re all familiar with self 1. Self 1 tells us what to do, why we’re great, and why we suck. He is the instructor. Self 2 is the performer.

When we’re performing at our best, Self 2 is in control, and Self 1 is quiet.

Mastering this is a lifelong pursuit, but increased focus is a byproduct of the journey.

The Inner Game of Tennis is a compelling read for any athletic endeavor because your relationship with yourself will change significantly.

5. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

By: Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

“Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views.”

What You’ll Learn: How Zen meditation helps quiet your mind and see things as they are.

From time to time, we all struggle with ego. A healthy ego helps us be confident, but a destructive ego lives up in the cloud, far from reality.

Zen meditation helps unlock someone from the confines of their ego. When you start seeing things how they are, you’ll focus better and be more willing to push your limits.

The book is a collection of informal talks about Zen, so don’t worry about it to being too “woo-woo” of a read. It’s short and easy to understand.

CrossFit Books & Mental Toughness- Wrap-Up

As CrossFit athletes, being able to focus and having mental toughness are paramount for improvement and achieving our goals.

While developing your mind is a lifelong pursuit better started yesterday, these 5 books can be the impetus to get you started on your journey. Better late than never.