How to Mentally Prepare For Adversity in Sports
Have you ever planned for adversity?
You may think this is an odd question but it is very important when it comes to sports.
When athletes sit back and imagine their athletic careers, they envision clutch plays, great performances, big wins, high accolades, prestigious awards, personal records, right?
While it is beneficial to set your sights on certain athletic milestones, it is equally as important to be mentally prepared to deal with adversity.
Too many athletes expect smooth sailing throughout their athletic careers.
When turbulent waters hit, these athletes are shocked, overwhelmed, feel sorry for themselves and are ill-prepared to deal with those tough circumstances.
Being mentally ready to deal with adversity is what is referred to as mental toughness.
Mental toughness not only gives you the ability to power through adversity, it also gives you the tools to use adversity to your benefit.
Mental toughness has been a key factor in the pitching career of 25 year-old Stephen Tarpley…
Tarpley has had his share of challenges throughout his professional career.
Tarpley was a third-round draft pick out of USC by the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. Tarpley showed a lot of promise and was listed as Baltimore’s 13th-best prospect in their farm system.
In 2015, Tarpley was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he struggled in his 20 starts at Class A ball. Shortly thereafter, Tarpley was traded again to the New York Yankees.
Last year in spring training for the Yankees, Tarpley showed up with a shoulder injury that held him out of action for a significant amount of time.
When Tarpley returned to competition he was converted from a starter to a relief pitcher, a brand new role that he had to figure out.
Tarpley’s mentally tough response to adversity has helped him develop into a dominant pitcher in Double A ball with a 1.71 ERA in 33 games.
TARPLEY: “This is my sixth year in pro ball. It’s been kind of a roller coaster of emotions, going through my whole career. As far as just being good in spring training [last year], then getting hurt last second, having to sit out half the year, then coming back and having to figure it all out all over again. It’s been a lot of adversity that I’m going to benefit going through. And that’s all playing out right now, as far as this season goes.”
Mental toughness and resiliency made it possible for Tarpley to keep going even through tough times in his career.
Mental toughness can be summed up in the adage, “That which doesn’t destroy you, makes you stronger.”
How to Mentally Prepare for Adversity
Understand that adversity is inevitable. If you have a logical plan to deal with adversity, you will be better equipped to work through tough times.
If you understand that tough circumstances can help you become a better athlete in the end, you will stay motivated to trudge forward to achieve your goals.
Start by anticipating situations that can block your path to success. What can derail your focus and confidence during a match?
Think about how you might cope with each situation. How will you respond to each situation with composure and resiliency?
You can’t experience true triumph without fighting through trial.