“It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up”
The quote above is not only true for sports, but also true for life. Ironically, while resiliency is invaluable when it comes to sport and life success, it is often an overlooked and under-developed life skill. When athletes fail to develop their mental toughness and resiliency, the net result is usually an athlete that plays far below his or her potential and capabilities.
How many times have you witnessed an athlete blow a gasket after making a mistake on the field? In fact, after the mistake was made, how many times have you seen an athlete essentially “check out” the rest of the game because he holds onto the bad play? Sadly, these things happen all the time in sports, and always hold athletes back from playing their best.
In my opinion developing resiliency is the single most important life skill we can learn and master, as we will all deal with stress, frustration, failure, and adversity. It’s not a question of “if,” but rather “when” are we going to run into that next life challenge…..will you be ready?
The great news is parents and coaches can teach athletes of all ages and skill levels the basics of resiliency development in 3 easy steps:
- Normalize stress, adversity, frustration, and failure. Have kids look around and remind them that every single person they see has had to deal with tough days, and that the difference between good and great is how well we handle the challenges we face in life.
- Use the 24-hour rule. After a tough game allow your child to get his or her emotions out without doing any coaching — after a day, encourage your child to go back and objectively learn from his or her mistakes. Usually after 24 hours emotions subside, allowing for a clear mind and ample opportunity to revisit bad plays and think about ways to improve for the future.
- Teach stress inoculation. This technique is simply thinking through stressful situations before they happen, and developing a game plan to respond accordingly. For example, a young athlete who knows he has 2 tests the same day as a big game can think through ahead of time how he is going to prepare for each test, as well as what he needs to do to be ready to go for the game that night. By thinking about things ahead of time he can better prepare his study time, have his uniform ready, and mitigate any other potential stressors before they happen (i.e. making sure he has a ride to the game, or allowing enough time to deal with traffic).
Don’t wait another day when it comes to improving resiliency. You will get knocked down again in life, but will you get up? Athletes who develop their resiliency will, and it’s no secret why they regularly out-perform the competition as a result.