30-Second Test for Mental Toughness

May 31, 2011

Replicating game-like conditions is a complex undertaking, especially when you're attempting to re-create high-pressure situations with nerve-wracking moments.

So how else are you supposed to develop the mental toughness needed to get past such moments?

Dr. Rob Bell, STACK’s go-to sports psychologist, checks in with an unconventional test:  take a 30-second cold shower. Not lukewarm. Not alternating hot and cold. Constant arctic-blast cold.

Says Dr. Bell, “The cold water will cause you to narrow your focus, and it’ll be near impossible to distract yourself from the sensation. You’ll notice immediately what your thoughts attend to and you’ll instantly develop a strategy.”

There are several ways to diffuse high-pressure situations, as Dr. Bell has advised in previous entries; but the cold shower routine presents an opportunity to put your coping strategy to the test.

“We must not fear a 30-second cold shower,” Bell writes. “You’ll be uncomfortable, but you have to push through it. More importantly, you must recognize the type of thoughts that arise and how to control those thoughts during competition.”

In other words, to rise above adversity, you must identify what works and what doesn't. Once you’ve iced the 30-second shower, Bell suggests extending it to one minute [brrrr], or even trying it first thing in the morning [rise and shine!].

STACK's thoughts on the 30-second shower test? Summer is the best time for pushing your limits and taking your mental toughness to the next level. That, and just the thought of a cold shower in the dead of winter is too painful.

Visit Dr. Bell’s blog to learn more and to submit your experience with the cold shower test. You’ll be eligible to win a copy of his book, Mental Toughness Training for Golf.

Photo:  jimwhitephoto.com

Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
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