Building Resilience for Performance

Sports Psychologist Dr Olivia Hurley advises on how to improve your staying power and overcome obstacles in your path.

Resilience is a key quality shared by all those who achieve consistent and long-term success in sport and in life. It is the ability to persevere; to attempt to overcome setback such as losses, failure or injuries. The good news is that it can be built over time. Here are 10 suggestions from Sports Psychologist Dr Olivia Hurley to help build resilience.

1. Have the courage to be imperfect. No performance will ever be 'perfect'. Work towards producing consistently good performances that strive for excellence, not perfection. Aiming for excellence allows room for error.

2. Have a positive outlook. This does not mean you must always wear a 'smiling' face! Instead it means being open to new experiences, new ways of doing things. In allowing yourself to try out new things, you will find out what inspires you...

3. Know what you want to achieve and why. It's important to think about what you would like to achieve and why you wish to achieve it. Sometimes we often neglect is how we plan to achieve that goal. Having a plan is important. What short-term goals do you need to set in order to reach your ultimate long-term goal? Who might you need to provide support and help in achieving this goal?

4. Seek out appropriate social support. Becoming more resilience cannot happen if you are too afraid to ask the appropriate people for help. The most successful athletes, teams and performers of any kin have a support team around them to help them achieve their goal. 

5. See your decisions as active choices. Too often the word 'sacrifice' to describe the decisions we make in order to achieve our goals. Such a word conjures up images of 'toil and struggle'. Yes, while the effort it takes to achieve goals are often physically and mentally challenging, they are also active choices you make, that you have control over. See them as choices, not something you are being forced to do.

6. Take control and take responsibility. You have the power over your thoughts, feelings and actions. We allow other people to 'make us feel' a certain way. Take back that power. This often requires having some 'self-talk' ready that we can say to ourselves to remind us that we do not need to 'let' another person make us feel bad when they are being unkind or judgemental about us. A simple phrase such as, 'let it to', may be helpful..

7. Focus on your own personal development. We often engage in comparisons between ourselves and others. What someone else has achieved in their lives may not be right for you. Focus more on yourself. Decide what you can do to change your life for the better. Is that something you have a personal desire to do? (only you can answer).

8. View setbacks as opportunities for growth. This refers to the possibility to learn valuable lessons from difficult experiences such as illnesses or injuries. Being able to cope with the physical and mental pain of such situations can allow us to develop strength from such experiences.

9. Aim to create a performance mind-set. A performance mind-set refers to a thought process that focuses on the task (eg performing your best on stage), rather than focusing on the outcome of the task (eg, getting a recall, placing well etc). This is a helpful mindset to develop because it enables you to focus on what is inside your control; the task, and not what is outside your control, the outcome (ie the judge's opinion and positioning of your dance performance).

10. Recharge - Resilience is not all about enduring. Building resilience also requires 'strategic stopping'. It's about working hard, stopping, recovering, and then getting going again. Remember to make a conscious decision to rest and recover. 

#performance athlete

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published