Adversity Training

The mentally toughest and most resilient people have had a good amount of adversity in their lives (but not too much). It is their overcoming of adversity that has made them mentally strong. However, most of the time, the adversity that makes people strong is not chosen voluntarily. Nobody desires to get cut from their high school team. Nobody desires to live through poverty. Nobody desires to experience losses and tough times. We appreciate the mental toughness we gain from adversity, but we would rather not have to go through adversity in order to gain mental toughness. Is there a way to gain mental toughness without the costs of real adversity. I believe there is a way. I call it adversity training.

Adversity training is when you purposely place yourself in adverse situations (in a safe, controlled way) in order to train your mental toughness. Many athletes love to be in their comfort zones. They want everything to be perfect. They want their equipment to be perfect. They want the weather to be perfect. If their equipment isn't right or the weather is "too bad," they'd rather not even practice. Some athletes don't even want to exert too much effort because it's too uncomfortable. Then these athletes wonder why they don't perform well in games. They forget that in games, conditions can be uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable. Games rarely get canceled because it's "too cold," "too hot," or "too windy." Likewise, you don't get to reschedule a game because your equipment isn't ideal. These aren't legitimate excuses. Both teams have to deal with uncontrollable conditions and misfortunes. The mentally tougher team who handles adversity better wins.

This is why you need to prepare ahead of time and practice adversity training. Purposely practice in less than ideal conditions. Purposely practice in bad weather. Purposely practice through loud noise to mimic crowd noise. Purposely practice with worse equipment (such as a backup tennis racket). Purposely push yourself to your physical limits to become more comfortable being uncomfortable. Purposely add more pressure to your practices. As you put yourself in adverse situations, maintain a positive attitude and give your best effort. The more you do this, the mentally tougher you'll become, and the better you'll be prepared for uncontrollable game conditions.

Furthermore, you can practice your mental toughness off the court. You can practice a light form of asceticism, where you deny yourself of luxuries and indulgences to train yourself to become satisfied with less. You can take a cold shower. You can turn off the internet for a day. Living in constant comfort/luxury makes you mentally weak as well as lazy, ungrateful, and needy. Use adversity training in your daily life to make yourself stronger, more grateful, and less needy. Obviously, you don't need to give up all comfort and luxuries. Find the perfect balance of comfort and discomfort to make you both happy and mentally tough.

The same goes for adversity training during practices. You don't need to do it all the time. Training toughness just for the sake of toughness isn't always smart. You can also train effectively in ways that are enjoyable and don't put wear and tear on your body. Like always, balance is key.

If done well, adversity training can greatly improve your mental toughness and help you perform better in games. Let me know in the comments your favorite ways to build your mental toughness in practice. Give me your best adversity training examples and ideas.

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