Helping Athletes Bounce Back From Failure
Making mistakes messes with many athletes’ minds. You see it all the time and you probably have experienced it to some degree.
You have trained hard for this one competition… You dedicated yourself to your sport… You pushed yourself to the limit in practice… You refined your technique… You feel confident as the competition moves near…You feel totally prepared.
And then the unexpected happens… You fall, trip, miss, foul, get disqualified or something equivalent that leaves you feeling devastated. You ask yourself, “How in the world could this have happened?”
Now what? You have another event coming up.
You have two choices: (1) You can respond negatively to the last competition and allow this to carry over into your next competition; or (2) You can respond with the toughness of a fighter.
Mental toughness is that positive response to adversity. Mental toughness is the mindset that forges forward instead of choosing to relive negative moments.
In order to achieve your athletic potential you need to buy into the old adage, “It’s not what happens to you that matters; it is what you do with what happens to you that matters.”
With the 2016 Rio Olympics soon approaching, you can find many inspiring stories of athletic success. These inspirational athletes are able to flex their mental toughness muscle because they have made a conscious choice and commitment to develop the mental side of their game.
Olympic athletes only get one shot every four years and understand that, if they are going to be successful, they will need a strong mental game.
These athletes have committed to put in countless hours of mental training knowing that mental obstacles are often bigger than the physical challenges of competition.
Track and Field runner Brenda Martinez had trained for years to compete in the Olympics in the 800m.
Martinez was running a great race with about half a lap from qualifying for her first Olympic team when her feet tangled with another runner causing her to lose her balance.
By the time she recovered four other runners passed her, dashing her Olympic hopes in the 800m.
Martinez could easily have allowed her emotions to ruin her trials and chance to achieve her goal of competing in the Olympics. Instead, Martinez chose to forge forward and mentally started preparations for her next race, the 1500m.
Was Martinez upset? Sure she was. But Martinez had a job to do and a goal to achieve. Martinez understands that wallowing in self-pity has no benefit to her next race.
MARTINEZ: “The track doesn’t care about your feelings. You’ve just got to move forward.”
Martinez’s mental toughness proved to be the difference maker when she ran the 1500m three days later.
Not only did Martinez stumble a couple of times during the Finals, she was fifth with 200m remaining and only the top three finishers make the Olympic team.
Martinez dug deep, drove hard to the finish, finished third by three one-hundredths of a second and made the USTAF Olympic team.
MARTINEZ: “I just kept telling myself not to give up.”
Just think of what you could do athletically with the added benefit of mental toughness.
Mental Toughness Tip:
First, look for inspiring stories of Olympians or professional athlete overcoming adversity. Print out news stories about mental toughness and write their quotes in a notebook.
How can you think more like an Olympian and respond to challenges with resilience and mental toughness?
Here’s your formula for success:
Commitment to training + high motivation + mental toughness = success
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