• Michael Patterson

Be Optimistic!

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.

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