What is resiliency? Resiliency is a necessary mental skill that can help you to cope with the obstacles sport and life throw at you. The best way to demonstrate the concept of resiliency is by using a rubber band. Take a rubber band and stretch it as far as you can. Now release the tension. After being stretched, it returns back to the form it started in, loose and ready to be stretched again. This is what resiliency is. It’s the ability to bounce back to where you started after your limits are tested or if you’ve been stressed in some way. In golf, they have a statistic to measure a player’s ability to be resilient. They call it the “bounce back.” Basically, they look at times when a golfer shoots over par on a hole and then how often he gets par or better on the next hole. Essentially, they are looking to see whether he lets a bad hole affect the next one. Ask yourself, “If I make a mistake, do I let this carry over, or am I able to ‘bounce back’ and refocus?”
How do I become more resilient? I have a friend we call “Teflon,” because any problems he faces never seems to stick. Something bad can happen and he acts like it never affected him. Not everyone is so impervious to stress. Resiliency is a skill that can be learned. One way to become more resilient is to be realistic rather than making everything a reality-show-caliber drama. A bad play is not the end of the world. Yes, you are disappointed, as any competitive person should be. Yes, you could’ve done better and yes, you probably could have made that play. Regardless of how you feel at that moment, make sure those feelings are based in reality. All that happened is you didn’t do as well as you wanted. The world will not end. You will live to play another day. If you make one bad play or one bad game a bigger deal than it needs to be, it often will snowball into your next play/game. Let’s assume that you can’t just brush a mistake off as easily as you would like to. If this is the case, it’s helpful to have an established routine that allows you to put that play (or game) behind you and refocus on the next one. For example, when there’s a stoppage in play, take 2 seconds to be pissed and figure out what went wrong. Then take 3 deep breaths and imagine what you want to do during the next minute of the game. When the game restarts, have a phrase you say to yourself and choose your focus/attitude. To bounce back after a game, make a habit of asking yourself three questions, 1) what did I do well?, 2) what can I improve on for next time?, and 3) what is my physical and mental plan for my next game? These questions allow you to realistically assess the last game and make sure you know you have a plan and will be better next time.
Another way to recover from an unsuccessful performance is to examine how you attribute success and failure. Some people may have a great play and attribute it to luck or they win a game and believe it’s because the other team wasn’t any good. Make sure if you have success you know that you are the cause of this success and give yourself credit for working hard and playing well. If you have a poor game and think there is never going to be anything you can do to get better, or lose and believe it was entirely your fault (rather than crediting competitors), it will be difficult for you to bounce back for the next game. It’s important to be optimistic and to understand that even though you may have “failed,” a new game/new play is a clean slate. You have control over your own performance and there is always something you can do to improve. Finally, to be resilient you need to be confident in yourself and your hard work. Believe that you are good and trust that all of the hours you log in your sport will pay off.
Resilience is simply readjusting Whether it’s after a poor performance, an injury, or any other obstacle from which you are trying to mentally or physically recover, remember that all it takes to be resilient is to readjust your mindset. You may have suffered a setback, but you have the ability to view this setback as a challenge that can make you stronger, more motivated, and mentally tougher. Instead of telling yourself you failed or that you will never recover from the situation, simply remind yourself that you can take control over what happens in the future but can’t go back and change the past. Once the milk is spilled, you can’t unspill it, but you do get to choose to either cry about the mess or grab a paper towel and clean it up.
Make it Great!