Does Adversity Improve Mental Toughness?

Adverstiy in Sports

How Mentally Tough Athletes Deal With Adversity

Is your mental toughness challenged when you have to perform under adverse circumstances?

If you want to perform your best, you’ll need to learn how to anticipate and cope with challenges.

Coping means having a way to respond to adversity so you can perform with a level head.

Sports has its ups and downs and there is nothing you can do to prevent occasional unforeseen circumstances, but you can control how you respond to those situations.

For example, the story of Melvin Upton is one of great success but also tremendous adversity.

Upton is an outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays…

Upton was a tremendous prospect in high school with all the tools, including his ability to hit with power.

Upton was drafted second overall as a shortstop in the 2002 Major League Baseball draft by Tampa Bay Rays.

Upton was ranked as the #21 prospect in baseball even though he led the minor leagues with 56 errors.

In 2004, Upton made his major league debut becoming the youngest Ray ever and the youngest player in the major leagues that season.

Early in his career, Upton bounced around from position to position playing shortstop, third base, and outfield. Though Upton continued to produce with his bat and prove to be a dangerous base stealer, he was still plagued by errors…

Toward the end of his tenure with the Rays, Upton was disciplined several times for his lack of effort and failure to run down ground-balls.

In 2013, Upton signed a big free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves and his offensive output suffered over the next three years.

Upton changed teams two more times, continued to struggle with his bat and was riddled with a nagging foot injury…

There is no doubt that the adversity bug has hit Upton hard, affecting his performance on the field.

Now, with the 2017 season approaching, Upton is battling to beat out two other players for the starting left fielder role on the Blue Jays.

Upton believes his struggles in recent years have help him be “mentally tougher” and prepared mentally to win the starting job in left field for Toronto.

UPTON: “Having some pretty good highs and feeling the lowest of lows kind of put things into perspective and has [helped me] stay even keel. It makes you continue to work and makes you mentally stronger.”

Does adversity really make you mentally stronger?

If that was the case every single athlete that was benched, suffered an injury, slumped, was cut from a team, choked under pressure or under-performed would grow from adversity.

Actually, the reverse is often true… Adversity, many times, causes athletes to give in or give up.

One part of mental toughness–how you react to adversity–causes you to continue to work hard, which leads to two benefits: (1) better performance and (2) more mental toughness.

Mental toughness is the ability to focus forward on your goals, stay positive and find a way to overcome.

The best thing about mental toughness is that it is available to every athlete, if you are willing to work for it.

Do you want to improve your mental strength and cope better with adversity when is strikes?

Two Ways For Developing Mental Toughness

1. Turn, “Oh no,” into, “What now?”

So adversity has hit… So what?

Feeling bad about those rough times will not help you rebound successfully.

Instead of lamenting over the past, ask yourself, “What can I do now that will get me back on track and improve my game?”

2. Anticipate challenges you might face in your sport–from being benched to going into a slump to losing a tight match.

How will you respond to these challenges? When you prepare yourself mentally to deal with challenges, you have alternative options for responding.

For example, how would you respond to a unfair call from an referee during competition? Do you know how to stay composed and not let it rattle you?

Start improving your mental toughness with The Focused Athlete Audio and Workbook program.

Discover How to Overcome Distractions During Competition!

The Focused Athlete

If you’re an athlete who is frequently distracted, loses focus in conception, or wants to learn more about how to focus better under pressure, check out:

The Focused Athlete: A 14-Day Plan For Superior Concentration

The Focused Athlete is a step-by-step plan to boost concentration and overcome distractions in sports. It is a complete system to teach you how to focus like a champion and harness the power of a zone focus every time you step into practice, a game or competition.

The Focused Athlete program comes with 2 audio CDs that include 14 days of focus boosting exercises and a simple to follow workbook that guides you through each of the 14 days, helps you apply the strategies, and customizes the exercises to your personal focus challenges.

Learn more about the Focused Athlete.

What are mental game customers saying?

“I can see that The Confident Athlete Series program is really sort of a lifestyle change. Just as weight loss involves a change in eating habits, confidence involves a change in thinking habits. I recently participated in a registered Skeet tournament and shot the best doubles score I’ve shot in four years. I attribute that score to your program!”
~Kevin Lutgen, Shooter

“Your response to the throwing problem in front of the coach covers so many situations in life…that is the beauty of playing sports…the life learning experiences. Keep up the good work…you are the best mental coach.”
~Bill Brennan, sports parent

Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!

Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.

You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!

What are our mental coaching students, parents and coaches saying?

“As a college softball coach I experience great pleasure in helping youth league coaches develop their young players. As reversal of that process, I, as the student, look to experts like yourself to give me the “mechanics” of sports psychology so that I may better impart my knowledge to the players and coaches. Your contribution spreads like wildfire and helps hundreds of youngsters as well as us “oldies.” Thanks for your contribution–it means a lot.”
~Tom Moore, College Softball Coach

“Ty has started nine games this season, and he is 6-0, with a 2.6 ERA. Two weeks ago he pitched a 9-inning shutout, breaking his school’s record with 17 strikeouts. For his efforts he was named NJCAA Division I National Pitcher of the Week. He’s in a real good place mentally. The mental game skills you taught him about mental preparation, eliminating expectation, and staying in the moment have been the keys to his success. The thing I have noticed most is his improved consistency. I have been amazed at the change in his mental game. I should have called you earlier to thank you personally.”
~Randy Sullivan, Ty’s Father

Download Our FREE Mental Toughness Report!

Download your FREE Mental Toughness Report and discover if you are making one or more of theses ‘costly’ mental game mistakes before competition.


  • Discover if those pregame jitters are positive or negative.
  • Learn the important pregame mental skills to perform your best.
  • Learn how your mental game might sabotage your success in sports.
  • Identify mistakes in your per-competition mental preparation.

Download The Mental Toughness Report:

10 ‘Costly’ Mental Game Mistakes Athletes Make Before Competition: What Every Athlete And Coach Must Know To Improve Mental Preparation

What are mental coaching students, parents and coaches saying?

“My wife and I immediately applied your eBook mental toughness tips and luckily we got a fast response. Over just four days we brought her up out of a slump to success. She had ‘permission to make mistakes,’ she came out of her funk. Amazing!”
~Glenn A. Grube, Sports Parent

“The amount of knowledge I’ve learned from your eBooks, books and podcasts at Peaksports is fantastic! You’re the best Mental Training coach I’ve found. I research the subject a lot and other sport psychologists aren’t as comprehensive as you.”
~Gavin Clark, PGA Member

Leave a Comment