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Mental Training - Tips on Competing When Faced With Adversity

By Jeff Janssen

Adversity abounds in sport. Your opponents are an obvious, pre-dominant and necessary source of adversity but there are several other factors that can take you out of your game. Things like judgment-impaired officials, poor weather conditions, long-term injuries, and a lack of playing time are just some examples that can frustrate, aggravate and demotivate you. As most great athletes realize however, it’s not necessarily the amount of adversity you face but more importantly how you choose to handle it.

As Charles Swindoll once said, “ Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” How you approach adversity is one of the most important keys to your success. When athletes let adversity get the best of them by losing their focus, confidence and motivation to perform, they end up negating their talent and render themselves useless. The basic key to compete when faced with adversity is to mentally move from focusing on the problem to focusing on the solution.

1) View Adversity as an Opportunity or Challenge

Another key to overcoming adversity is to mentally frame it as a positive opportunity or challenge instead of seeing it as a negative threat. Great players create challenges out of adversity instead of being threatened by it.

2) Control the Controllables

Remember to focus on what you can control in the situation - namely your reactions, focus, confidence and attitude. By controlling the controllables, you will be able to stay calm as you figure out the best way to overcome the adversity.

3) Take It One at the Time

Play in the present moment by letting go of past problems and not worrying about future concerns. By mentally staying in the present moment and playing the game one pitch at a time, you help to make the game much more manageable.


4) Persist

Typically losers are the people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Giving up is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and  gives your players absolutely no chance of being successful.

5) Try Smarter Instead of Always Trying Harder

When you are struggling, take a step back and assess your approach. By taking a step back and analyzing the situation, you might discover an easier and more effective way of doing things.

6) Be Patient and Trust Your Plan

After you assess your approach and discover that it is the correct one, be patient and stick with it. Too many times, we second-guess ourselves following adversity rather than choosing to be patient and trusting the plan when it is the correct one.

7) Learn Lessons from Mistakes

Rather than dwelling on mistakes and problems, learn lessons from them. The mistakes and adversity you endure now can be converted into future successes provided that you invest the time to learn from them.

8) Use the Anger/Frustration to Your Advantage

Channel the anger and frustration when facing adversity to motivate and focus even more. Too many players turn the anger inwards to destroy themselves rather than taking advantage of it.

9) Endure It Together

Teams have the choice of weathering the adversity together or falling apart, with each individual player thinking only of herself. Lean on your teammates, dividing the problem and multiplying resources, ultimately making a stronger team.

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