How Athletes Can Improve When Adversity Strikes
What types of adversity have created difficulty for you in the past?
Maybe you have experienced an injury or long-term sickness… Or were cut from a team or benched by your coach… Or bombed in a big competition or missed the playoffs… Or had conflict with your teammates or personal issues.
Adversity can be challenging depending upon your perspective to other athletes.
Recently, the COVID pandemic created huge obstacles for all athletes.
You, as well as every other athlete, experienced the disruption of your life and your participation in your sport.
You may feel as if the pandemic crushed your hopes and dreams for the athletic year.
Adversity is similar in nature but different in intensity.
When you hit adversity in your athletic career, it may feel as though you can do nothing about it, but that mindset leaves you feeling helpless and down. No matter what you are facing, taking positive action will help alleviate the stress of adversity.
For example, it may be true that you may not be able to perform at your peak when you are injured or sick, but you still can do something. You can utilize your time to improve your mental game, strengthen weak body parts or catch up on schoolwork…
It may seem hopeless when you are cut from a team or benched, but you can still do something to positively impact your performance. You can look for new ways to hone technique, improve your conditioning or work on weak parts of your game…
It may feel impossible when you are clashing with teammates or dealing with personal issues, but you can still do something positive for your game. You can learn to communicate better, take responsibility for your actions or find resources to help resolve personal issues…
Doing something or taking positive action when faced with adversity is empowering.
- Taking positive action prepares you for the future.
- Taking positive action prepares you to compete when the pressure is on.
- Taking positive action in tough times builds mental toughness.
The COVID-19 shutdown caused the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The postponement of the Olympics was hard to deal with for every athlete prepared to showcase their skills and ability on the world stage.
Portuguese professional triathlete Pedro Gomes, who spent countless hours training and preparing for the biggest competition in the world, was left to face adversity on a grand scale.
GOMES: “Mentally, I was definitely lost. I just did not know how long the pool was going to be closed. The uncertainty of not knowing when this is going to end and being completely out of my control, it was something scary.”
Gomes decided to do something. He took to his indoor bike trainer and virtually raced against his friends.
Doing something, just as Gomes did, helps you take back some control and leaves you feeling empowered.
Taking positive action builds resiliency and mental toughness. Overcoming adversity makes you a better, more prepared athlete as long as you maintain the right perspective.
How to Improve as an Athlete when Adversity Strikes:
When adversity strikes, think about two positive actions you’ll take to improve as an athlete–no matter your situation.
Commit to improving your game by working on your fitness, strength or mental game.
When should you work on your mental game? We suggest during the pre-season, during the season and any time you can’t train due to adversity.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- How to Build Mental Toughness
- How Athletes Deal with Stress
- How to Overcome the Fear of Negative Outcomes
Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!
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