Mindset for Playing in Tough Conditions

mental game

Facing the Worst Conditions in a Competition

Were you able to concentrate on competing, or did the weather or arena mentally affect your performance?

Wind, rain, snow, excessive heat, frigid temperatures, and glaring sun can affect playing surfaces and competition conditions. It is challenging to be your best when weather conditions are not optimal.

But why do some athletes play better in cold weather? Why do some athletes seem to be unaffected by the heat? Why do some athletes find a way to win when weather conditions are adverse?

The answer is simple. Some athletes play better in adverse conditions due to a choice they make. That choice is where to apply their focus.

Imagine this scenario. You play on a soccer team that is playing in a weekend tournament. You wake up early morning to 40-degree temperatures and steady rain. You look outside and think, “This is horrible. I don’t want to play in these conditions. The field is going to be muddy. I never play well in the cold.”

On and on, you lament about the weather. You arrive at the field and are miserable. The other team is going through their typical warm-up while your team commiserates about playing in cold, rainy conditions.

At this point, the opposing team has a significant mental advantage, even though you are playing on the same field under the same conditions. Why would you give the other team a mental edge before the game even starts?

The issue at hand is not the weather. The problem is your focus. If you focus on rain, mud, cold, heat, or snow, you are not focusing on playing your game.   

No matter the weather, teams are mostly playing under the same conditions. However, many teams often play with opposing mindsets, and those mindsets are CHOICES!  

You can choose to focus on how you will impact the game instead of focusing on the weather.  

You can gain a significant edge if you change your mindset. 

Imagine how well you would play if this were your thought process, “Most players don’t like playing in the rain and cold. This is where I can separate myself from the other players. While they are hesitant on the field, I will be aggressive. These are the conditions where I excel. My focus will be the difference-maker.”  

With this mindset, you will start the competition with greater confidence and a mental edge.  

In a 2022 mid-season game against the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins were expected to play in cold temperatures and the strong possibility of snow. Not only were the Bills playing at home, but they were also accustomed to playing in cold conditions.

Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa commented he focused on competing, not the potential weather conditions. 

TAGOVAILOA: “I think for me, it’s understanding that there could be many things — could be snowing, it could rain, I don’t know. For me, at least, it’s a mindset thing, really. If I’m too focused and worried about, ‘Is it too cold? Can I really grab the ball? Can I not,’ then I would say I’m focused on the wrong things. It’ll be hard to play that way going down there and playing against a good team.”  

Miami head coach Mike McDaniel succinctly stated that playing in unfavorable weather comes down to mindset.

McDANIEL: “To me, you just decide if you’re going to let it factor in or not, and then you adjust as best you can. It is the same field, the same elements, so you just decide mentally how much you will let it affect you.”  

What will you allow to affect your game, or will you choose the mindset to compete no matter the circumstances?

Tip for Gaining a Mental Advantage Playing in Bad Weather  

Before leaving your house, establish your mindset. Write three positive statements about how you will mentally approach the upcoming competition.   

For example, “Playing in this weather is my advantage. While others are focused on the weather, I will focus on my game. I will remain mentally tough throughout the competition.”  

You want to embrace playing in any conditions so you’ll have the mental advantage!

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