By Maggie M.
When thinking about sports such as hockey, football or rugby, your brain automatically is directed to physical toughness, as these athletes are being tackled, and taking hits against the boards, all in the name of the game. These are the “grinders” the sports that are often used to define a “jock”, and the sports that are assumed to inflict sport injuries. Although many sports require physical toughness, an aspect that a successful athlete and team require in order to be victorious is mental toughness.
Mental toughness cannot exclusively be strengthened in the gym like physical toughness. Mental toughness is derived from getting kicked while you’re down however rising and overcoming any obstacle that once put you down. Mental toughness is what separates a mediocre “weekend warrior” athlete from an athlete who cannot be beat, because if you have mental toughness, no tackle, or hit into the boards, or loss or even being cut from a team can break you. Mental toughness is a measure of individual resilience and confidence that may predict success in not only sport but in life. It’s importance is not expressed enough, as mental toughness is the difference between a young athlete giving up sports all together upon their first experience of getting cut from a team, and the kid who gets cut and uses that as a lesson on how to get better, faster and stronger at those weaknesses that once caused them to be cut. Mental toughness is where winners are made and where giving up simply isn’t an option.
Where mental toughness is tested alongside physical toughness in tryouts. Tryouts- the often dreaded, nerve wracking time where athletes showcase their talents and hard work while all having the same goal in mind- to make the team. At the end of tryouts a team is made, however during tryouts, it can be explained as Darwin’s theory of evolution with the survival of the fittest. Only athletes who stand out to the coaching staff as mentally and physically tough will survive the rounds of tryouts resulting in making the team. Although being “cut” from the team is often viewed as “not worthy” or even as failure, it is those athletes who are resilient who will make the changes needed, turn weaknesses into strengths and who never give up who can be deemed as mentally tough.
Getting cut from a team can be a major emotional setback for most athletes, however knowing how to cope with getting cut is how athletes can go from not making the team one year to being a starting player the following year. The reason many young athletes today quit after being cut is because of their coping strategies or their lack of. Getting cut from a team can be frustrating and depressing however a mentally tough athlete can turn that negative emotion into motivation by taking the coach’s criticism as constructive rather than negative and to improve for their next opportunity. Making the team you’re trying out for is an “on top of the world feeling”, however working hard, pushing your limits and never giving up resulting in making a team you were previously cut from is a feeling that cannot be beat, and it is a feeling only an athlete who is resilient and mentally tough will experience.
Goldberg. Allan (2017). Cutting in Sport, Retrieved from https://www.competitivedge.com