Monday, February 2, 2015

Mental Toughness

As many of you know, I was a ski racer when I was younger. I loved it: being outside, skiing, competing, being with my friends. It was also a family thing in my house; 4 of us skied all day and my mom was always in the lodge waiting with lunch and warm hands to warm up our toes. I learned so much from ski racing. I learned time management, how to deal with disappointment, how hard work pays off, sacrifice, and mental toughness among other things.

One of the most important things I learned was to try all the way to the end. A race course can be anywhere from 25 seconds long to 2 minutes long (approximately). The courses are never the same although they have the same elements in them. The mountains are all different that we raced on, the coaches setting the course all had their own ideas, but the one thing in common was that there was always a little space between the last gate and the finish line. We were taught not to stop trying on that last gate, but to think of the finish line as the last gate. If we thought the race was over at the last gate, we just might relax enough to fall, stand up straight or just not push through to the finish line. Since everything is on a timer, gliding through the finish line could cost valuable tenths of seconds and be the factor between 1st place and 4th place.

This is an important factor to remember in any sport. My daughter, B, swims competitively. I try to get in her head and explain to her that sports are 90% mental, 10% physical. The girl is a power house, but sometimes she lets the girl swimming next to her psych her out. Yesterday, she said she glided into the wall at the end of a race instead of pushing. She is in high school and is just beginning to realize little things that could make her faster. She has made great strides this season and it is beginning to dawn on her that mental toughness and fighting for the wall at the end of a race is crucial.

Last night's Super Bowl was a perfect example of not giving up in the final seconds. The Patriots were looking at losing another Super Bowl. Did the defense give up? They could have. But mental toughness prevailed and they kept fighting. Malcom Butler made one of the most fantastic plays of the game. The winning play of the game.

Mental toughness is not something only for sports. It's for believing in yourself and all that you are capable of. I think it's time to take some of my own advice....


Melisa Wells said...

So true! And I love that picture of you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the bruises on the arms and legs! Great blog and so true. Great advice for anyone. The Patriots certainly showed that you have to fight for every second and play. It's not over till the final bell rings! Love you, Nana

Unknown said...

Hey! I know that ski racer, and that sweater, and those pads and long skis! Sue, it's so funny - my daughter is a competitive swimmer in high school, too, and I find the mental game so similar! Though she likes distance events, so she's more like a squarehead than a piney, I think!