The Guide to Becoming A Tough Athlete

tough athlete
Tough Mudder photo by Fat Tony.

Toughness

The ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances. Let not confuse toughness with talent. Becoming a tough athlete is difficult. Someone can be the most talented human being on the planet, but without a certain aspect of toughness, they will reach a sticking point in their career. This is because competitive circumstances are usually not in your favor. There are people who do not believe in you, crowds yelling at you, injuries, and the list can go on for days on the problems athletes face.  Only the toughest of athletes can endure the collection of horrible things thrown their way. 

Talent is a god given gift that can be nourished through training. Toughness is built more through personal experience.  If someone has had everything given to them their whole life by their parents and never had to work for anything then chances are they are not going to be very tough. The good news is toughness can be trained if you want it to be.

Toughness is also misplaced with a lot of attributes in character that are really not such great things.  When people hear the word sometimes they are expecting a rude, ruthless, insensitive, cold-hearted or even selfish athlete.  In reality, this is very far from the case as a lot of these displays of character would not even make a great athlete. If this is so then what is this toughness being spoken of.

It Can Be Broken Down Into 4 Categories.

  • Emotional Flexibility- This is the ability to go on an emotional roller coaster and still is able to maintain a positive attitude in competition.  If emotionally inflexible an athlete is easily broken and shows a lack of toughness.
  • Emotional Responsiveness– Is the ability to stay emotionally engaged while incompletion when under any type of pressure. If pressure makes an athlete lose focus, sad, or makes them give up during competition it shows lack of toughness.
  • Emotional Strength- The ability to keep the fight and drive in your heart even when the task at hands seems impossible
  • Emotional Resiliency– Is the ability to deal with negative aspects of sports. Whether it is losing the last game, getting hurt, or making a huge mistake, this is measured by how easily you can shrug it off.

You Must Be:

  • Confident In Abilities
  • Calm
  • See the glass half full
  • Full of positive energy
  • Focused
  • Not thinking everything is Automatic
  • Ready To have fun and succeed

Toughness Is Not Just Mental

Everyone knows there can be a huge difference between the way you feel and the way you should feel going into a competition.  Someone who is tough is able to consistently bring these two things together day in day out.  At any given time there are plenty emotions flowing through your mind, some could be positive while others are not so positive at all.  The problem with negative emotions is that everything single negative emotion a human has is for a reason. A tough athlete does something about that reason and eliminated the negative feeling to the best of their ability.

The point is our minds are far from dumb; they use emotions and feelings for a reason. They represent that fact you are in need of something.  It could be physical like being really hungry, or it could be physiological like needing some love.  The key is that a person who is tough can respond too many of these emotions in an appropriate way.  It is never just as simple as blocking them out because then your needs will still be there and this is a sure fire way to decrease your performance levels.

Performance Is All That Matters

The fact of the sporting world is that whatever personal problems you are dealing with, illness you have, injuries you claim to have; it does not matter only one thing is monitored.  Athletes, coaches, trainers, fans, everyone they all look at your performance.  Now it is not possible to emotionally feel like the most energized and motivated athlete every single day.  Lucky there is a way to beat the system and not have your performance suffer.

Act Your Butt Off

Sometimes you might be scared but if you are a great actor and give off this aura of being confident everyone will see that night in night out.  If you are really tired going into a game but for the time the clock starts you act like you are energetic that is what people will see. After a short time, it will not be acting for you anymore. This will be what you are, day after day.  You will never allow your emotions and feelings to take you over during game time, but at the same time, you understand they are there and that you have an unmet need.

The Way A Tough Athlete Thinks

Fear- When dealing with fear, first admit that you are scared, but attack fear face to face.  Smile on the outside, and you will begin to smile on the inside also.

Say- I love it

Problem after Problem keeps coming- It may seem like you have the worst luck in the world

Say- Keep the problems coming, get them over with it is ok. Eventually, the problems will be over and I will be a stronger athlete.

Want to Quit- Things seem so bad that you want to give everything up.

Say- No I am not a quitter and I have never been that is why I am where I am. Quitting does not solve anything and imagine how good it will feel when I get through this.

The Way a Tough athlete Acts

Loss Of Energy- Feeling tired and real flat

Do this- Jump up and down on your toes, clap your hand, and act as if it is the best day of your life. Never let your opponent know how you feel.

Mistakes- even if it is the worst mistake ever and you feel like you can never been forgiven for what you have done.

Do this- Do not show any change in your character, opponents look for this, start thinking about your next big play

Down Late in the Game- You need a score to win but your nervous and a bit scared.

Do this- Come alive let your opponent see you are ready to make something happen, make them scared

Be Careful

Though acting cans a huge asset to an athlete and their performance there is an issue that needs to be watched out for.  It must always be understood that when you are hiding your real emotions you still have those emotions for a reason. They are real emotions.  After the game time is over you need to get in touch with your real self, because as a human you still have needs that need to be cared for.

Being tough is not an option it is necessary, especially as your level of play increases. The higher the level the more money involved, the more pressure, and this where the tough survive. They can handle things that normal everyday people could not handle; sometimes it is this that separates a person from cheering in the stands and playing. So toughen up, it will pay huge dividends for you in sports and in life in general.

 

chop wood, carry water

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