Finishing Strong When Losing

Mental Toughness for Sports

Mental Toughness for Sports: Grinding it Out

What exactly is mental toughness?

Mental toughness is being a competitor in all situations.

Whether it’s playing with intensity when you come off the bench with a few minutes left with zero chance of winning the contest…

Or focusing on nailing your routine when the winner has already been decided…

Or continuing to fight the last few games of the season when your team has already been eliminated from the playoffs…

Or even pushing yourself to the limit during the last five minutes of practice.

Mental toughness is when you do not tank or let up despite what some would deem a zero chance of success.

The reality is that every time you compete, you succeed.

You may not succeed in winning the contest but you succeed in building your mental toughness.

Every time you compete, you invest in your mental toughness.

When you see mental toughness in those terms, then there is always a benefit to competing

Mental toughness is cumulative; it develops through training and through action.

You always an opportunity to build your mental toughness, whether you are playing a pre-season game or championship game.

If you chose not to compete when your chances of winning are low, you are wasting an opportunity.

With a healthy reserve of mental toughness, you will have a tremendous edge in future competitions.

Denver Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris talked about the importance of competing after the team’s loss to the Cleveland Browns which virtually eliminated them from the playoffs this season.

HARRIS: “There is no quit. Regardless of what the record is. At the end of the day if you’re a competitor, if you’re a true competitor, you want to win all the time, no matter what, and it shouldn’t matter what the score is or what your record is. You should be going out there regardless, trying to ball, that’s a competitor. That’s what we need, we need competitors.”

You have the choice in competitions and you want to make the right choice.

If you choose to back off because you believe the game to be meaningless or the situation not to matter, you develop a habit of giving in.

If you choose to compete, to give it your all in all situations, you develop the habit of mental toughness.

It’s that mental toughness that you can call on when you face pressure in future situations.

When the game is on the line, mental toughness will give you an edge over your opponents…

When you make a mistake early in a competition, mental toughness will help you bounce back quickly…

When you are trying to achieve a personal best, mental toughness will strengthen your chances of achieving your objective.

So, what choice will you make?

Developing Your Mental Toughness:

Look to improve your skills or learn in every situation. Think of different situations you found yourself in in past competitions.

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. Did I compete to the best of my abilities?
  2. What did I learn what can make me a better athlete in that situation and improve my mental toughness?
  3. What can I do differently in practice and competition to improve my mental toughness?

You must assess your mental game to learn what you need to work on for the next competition.

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