Imagine the emotional high from sinking a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in a state basketball tournament or hitting a walk-off home run against a conference rival. Next, picture a dejected basketball center seated at the end of the bench who just missed a crucial game-tying free throw, or a wide receiver who dropped a potential touchdown pass that ended the season.
The ability to "rebound" from such frustrating and depressing sports moments requires inner strength. (Read more on STACK's Mental Toughness page.)
The off-season is no longer just for building physical strength and improving general conditioning. It's the ideal time to focus on mental toughness and to learn how to rebound from adversity. Below are three tips to help you improve your outlook after a setback so you can confidently bounce back from being the "goat" to becoming the always-reliable "go-to" player. (See also Are You "Mr. Crunch Time" or a Post-Season Goat?)
Turn negatives to positives
Devote extra time in the off-season to overcome any weaknesses that led to those disappointing performances—for example, a kicker with a low field goal percentage from more than 40 yards, or a basketball center who struggles from the free throw line. Spending extra time to correct areas of weakness breeds the confidence to turn a former flaw into a positive skill for next season. (Check out How to Perform Better in Crunch Time.)
Don't surrender to failure
Head to the library and research books on successful athletes and coaches. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that your sports idols had to overcome fumbles or dropped passes or turnovers before reaching the top. In other words, discouragement did not impede their progress, nor should it derail yours.
After a lousy game, head to the weight room
Down and out from making a costly error or striking out with the bases loaded? Weight training can be an "uplifting" experience, similar to a brisk walk or jog, which generates mood-boosting chemicals in the body called endorphins. Use exercise as a means to help build up your confidence and your body.
(See also Foods To Boost Your Mood After Tough Games.)