In the sports world, mental toughness takes many forms, from overcoming obstacles to just sticking it out for one more rep. (Is it an attitude or behavior?) And it’s a major element is dealing with poor performance, whether real or perceived.
An athlete’s performance can vary from event to event, based on both positive and negative factors. Dealing with destructive factors and moving on from them is crucial if you want to improve. If you have a coping strategy for poor performance, you will be less concerned when things don’t go as you expect them to. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it.
This article conveys a simple technique for mentally processing poor performance and a coping strategy for any sport. Follow these steps to ironclad your mind against troubling thoughts. (Why losing is okay sometimes.)
Immediately after your game or event, take some time to relive it, regardless of whether you feel you gave 100%. This is particularly important if you feel disappointed. Run it through your mind, focusing on what you did, what others did and how you felt.
Take a notepad and brainstorm every factor that potentially diminished your performance. Write down anything you can think of. Trust your judgment. It doesn’t matter if the factor occurred during the performance or weeks before. If you think it affected you, write it down. Make a decent-sized list.
On two more pieces of paper, write the headings, “Things I could not control” and “Things I should have done differently.” Transfer all your notes from Step 2 under those two headings. Be honest. If you arrived late and it affected your performance, write it down. Don’t conclude that you couldn’t have anticipated the traffic jam. Get there early. However, if your car broke down, you couldn’t really have controlled that.
Take the list of “Things I could not control” and throw it away. Tear it up first, or put it through the shredder, but just forget about it. Discard it from your mind like you discarded the paper. You could do nothing about it before, and you can do nothing about it now.
Beside each item under “Things I could have done differently,” write down what you will do next time. Be precise and don’t skimp. Then make sure that you carry out every action you wrote down.
You have learned from your performance, so now you can leave it behind. When you recall it, you will remember what you have learned, which is a positive experience.