Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.: Andre Agassi
Take a minute to see where you are at.
Are you performing consistently well?
Are you struggling? or......Are you doing amazing and the future looks good,
If things are going well or not going well – ask the same questions – why am I doing well or doing not so well. Be ruthless in your appraisal. Acknowledge where you need to tidy up, where you need to maintain or what things you can do to break a limit physically and mentally.
The article focuses on resilience thinking that allows you to work harder. It’s a huge barrier that many athletes face. They simply don’t have the mental capacity to authentically push themselves.
I love hearing stories about how marathon runners and tennis players train.
Many use the analogy of a rubber band. And for my clients who have heard this story before, they can hear it again. The message is profound. The message is simple.
Elite sport is simple in many ways.
The rubber band analogy dives into how much the athlete psychologically speaking wants to stretch him or herself.
If you take a rubber band a stretch it, there will be a point of tension that will be ‘the limit’ a threshold so to speak – the rubber band snaps. It becomes broken.
The marathon runner to get better has to accept that to beat there PB every time they run, they have to stretch the band even further than last time. In a sporting context – they need to take the body and the mind where it hasn’t gone before.
High-performance training isn’t about comfort. It's about pushing past thresholds, mentally and physically.
Part of wanting to take your mind and body toward the unknown is accepting that resilience thinking needs to be part of your psyche.
So - how resilient are you?
The great athletes are all resilient. From playing through injury and pain to next level training regimes to unbelievable and un-paralleled self-discipline.
So, whilst we know that some people seem to quickly bounce back from personal failures and setbacks, while others find it much more difficult, take a look at how athletes approach hard work and pain.
Great athletes know that when life or sports knocks you down, they ask themselves very simple questions.
They also get to work.
Are you quick to pick yourself up and adapt to the circumstances?
Or do you find yourself completely and utterly overwhelmed with little confidence and anxiety in your ability or capacity to deal with the challenge in front of you?
If you find yourself in the latter category, don’t worry.
There are numerous practical strategies for building mental resilience; but know it is a quality that can be learned and honed through education, practice, discipline and hard work.
People’s resilience is often tested when life circumstances change unexpectedly and for the worse.
Grief, disappointment, rejection or failure are common.
But there are common challenges that everyone faces from the death of a loved one, job loss, or the end of a relationship. Such challenges nonetheless present the unique opportunity to rise above and come back even stronger than you were before. That’s what resilience is. Developing strength to outlast and overcome any set of variables and challenges.
For an athlete looking to take their game to the next level, they need to become vulnerable and face acceptance of who they are and why they are the way they are. Thus, to develop Mental Strength, they need to work on themselves and their character. They need the ability and hunger to learn.
Because, being mentally strong is about the enlarging and enabling the capacity of an individual to deal effectively with stressors, pressures, and challenges and perform to the best of their ability, irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves (Clough, 2002).
Building mental strength is fundamental to living your best life and being happy. An athlete needs to be happy with themselves first before success can follow.
Athletes starting in mental strength programs need to learn that just as we go to the gym and lift weights to build our physical muscles, we must also develop our mental health through the use of mental tools and techniques.
Optimal mental health will lead to mental strength. Mental health will lead to clarity. It will help you to live a life that you love, promote a mindset of growth and enable fulfillment to be front and centre in your journey.
The mindset needs to be on the journey – not the outcome. Therefore, life is about having meaningful social connections, relationships and developing positive self-esteem. In this space, the athlete can fully engage in the present, not worrying about the factors in their lives that stop them from going to the next level.
This is so as once you develop mental strength, you become a realist. It aids in our ability to take risks, try new things, and cope with any difficult situations that life may throw at us, which separates you from other athletes.
(Morin, 2017), describes mental strength as developing daily habits that build mental muscle.
It also involves giving up bad habits that hold you back. It's about doing the things that you don't like doing. That right there is a great way to build mental strength.
Consequently, mental strength programs such as ours at Athlete IQ, investigate the latter. What holds you back. Is it a low threshold to pain tolerance? Just as Agassi said, your pain tolerance in life will dictate how much pain you are willing to tolerate in your quest for athletic success.