Mental Toughness

When Kids Go Robben

If we don’t teach our kids to put in the hard work to win, and we allow the easy route of cheating, they will never know the feeling of working hard to achieve something. They will never feel the pride of accomplishing something. The will know what it feels like to win, but they will never know what it feels like to be a winner.

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Punishment In Youth Sport?

Like any area in life, not all behaviours are beneficial or helpful to society and punishments, whether they need to be acted upon or not, need to exist. A player can’t walk on to the field and pick up the ball with their hands and throw it in the goal. Doing so will result in a disallowed goal, a free kick, and depending on the age group, a yellow or red card. They are punished for this.

When “Whoo” Doesn’t Help

I have no problem with “Whoo!”, encouragement is great, but it needs to be for things we want to see in the future – new things, beneficial things, growth. I used to give my kids toys when they pooped on the toilet instead of in their diapers. They are now 14 and 16, they don’t get toys for that anymore. We don’t praise and reward things that were previous development steps in everydaty life, why would we do it in sports?

The Fear Virus

The problem with fear is that it is a virus. On the one hand it is fear that keeps us alive, and although it isn’t pleasant to experience it, there are benefits. Fear is the reason we look both ways before we step into the road to cross the street, or the reason we don’t hold a metal pole to the sky in the thunderstorm. Fear, in the right circumstance, is a good thing that keeps us alive. It is a critical component of our survival instinct. On the other hand, just like cowpox, fear can be devastating if left untreated and allowed to run amok.

Natural Talent vs Hard Work And Desire

The reality is that the nature vs nurture debate is null. It is impossible to take one side over another and answer all of the arguments against, no matter which side you take. Why? Because in every facet of life there are Messi’s and Ronaldo’s. There are people who are just naturally good, and people who are driven to be the best.

How “Us Against The World” Helps Athletes But Not Society

In a wider view of society, the “Them vs. Us” mentality is why we have extremists. They keep the outside out, and the inside protected. They fight harder for something that offers identity and certainty. In the wider world, it forces people into a division. It does the same in sport, with managers like Ferguson and Westley having very few people on the fence about them. In sport it is an amazing culture to build, and in possibly the only way I would dare disagree with Brian Clough (even in death he scares me), I believe it takes a very tough skin to be effective. It takes teams like Stevenage F.C. from being almost relegated from the Conference in 2004 to being in League One seven years later.

Hope Is What Athletes Call Mental Toughness

I started this blog with the intent of talking about performance and social identity, especially as it relates to Tourette’s Syndrome. Instead I have found myself bouncing around from mental illness to youth sport and from suicide to hope. Last week I questioned my intent and asked myself some questions about what it is I want to achieve here, as recently I have found that a lot has been about hope. I started to think about this as typically I start out each article thinking about the direction my writing will go and often find myself veering off as my thoughts take a new direction. Now, after some reflection, finally I think I have the answer. No matter what happens in life, hopelessness will destroy it. While this is true across humanity, the most instantly observable environment is sport.

Willpower Will Get You Where You Want To Go – (As Long As You Don’t Want To Stay There)

If willpower were so easy as “Today I will start/stop *insert goal here*” we’d all be a blazing and unstoppable success in all we tried to achieve. Ideal weight? Easy, all you have to do is willpower it. Want to run 10 miles? Yeah, willpower it, no problem (that said, watch this space for the rat article). What’s that, you want to be the best in your field (whatever that may be)? You can willpower it into existence, easy peasy lemon squeezy. Nope – I’m calling shenanigans! Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult, as Toby Wright would say.