The most mentally tough athletes are the most optimistic. Optimism refers to the hopefulness and confidence that you have regarding uncertain outcomes.
ABCDE of Learned Optimism
A=Adversity – During times of stress, such as dropping a pass or missing a tackle we encounter difficulty or adversity.
B=Beliefs – We think about the mistake that we have made which can shape our beliefs. ie. if you miss 4 tackles you may believe you are poor at tackling.
C=Consequences – All beliefs have consequences. The consequence of your believing that you are poor at tackling could be that you avoid situations in which you have to tackle.
D=Disputation – to remain optimistic during adversity, dispute or challenge your negative beliefs.
E=Evidence – Find evidence to dispute your negative beliefs. You should remember instances where you made successful tackles.
ADVERSITY – What happened?
I missed a tackle in the first minute of the match and the opposing team scored.
BELIEFS – What were your beliefs at that point in the match?
I just believed that it was going to be one of those days where everything would wrong for me.
CONSEQUENCES – What were the consequences of those beliefs?
I did not try as hard for the rest of the match because I thought we would lose.
DISPUTATION – How would you dispute or challenge those thoughts if it happened again?
I would say to myself “just because they scored in the 1st minute does not mean we will lose. We have 79 minutes to score more points than they do.”
EVIDENCE – What evidence can you find?
I would think about other times when teams have scored first and we have won anyway.
Strategies Used By The Most Mentally Tough Athletes
Effort Expenditure: When playing rugby, commit to your performance and always give 100% regardless of the sc
ore, whether it is the 1st or last minute of the match.
Thought Control: Don’t dwell on negative thoughts. Instead replace them with positive thoughts. ie. “That was a really bad tackle.” with “I am going to make a perfect tackle at my next chance.”
Relaxation: Relax at appropriate times during training and matches such as during breakds for set plays. Stretch your muscles to release tension and try a breathing exercise like “inhale for the count of 4 and exhale for the count of 8.”
Logical Analysis: Analyze in your mind your past performances and the weaknesses of your opponents. Think about possible solutions to and potential problems before competing.