I recently posted an article in the media links section of my website about Des Linden and how she almost retired from professional running. The article recalled a 2017 Half Marathon in Australia where Des felt sluggish and lacked motivation. She had spent the previous 2 years training intensely for some really big races, and by the time she got to the Half in Australia, she was burnt out.
Without getting into a full recap (read it here for yourself!), the article really struck me. So often when we see professional or elite athletes on TV or in the media, we see all the good things; the successes, the fame, the triumph. What we don't often see are the setbacks, the obstacles, the dips in motivation, and the self-doubt.
Des' story highlights that lack of motivation and self-doubt happens to everyone, and that it's ok when it does! One of the most important things you can do for yourself is have a life filled with balance and reflection. Train hard when you need to, take a break when you need to, hang with family and friends, read a book, cross train, go on a hike or trail run. Constantly check in with yourself about progress, motivation, boredom, and passion. The key is to listen to your body and your mind.
When I feel self-doubt creeping in or I'm feeling burnt out, I try to remind myself of these things:
Take a break: Sometimes a change of scenery helps.
Switch up my routine: Feeling burnt out can come from boredom or over-training. Cross-training can help.
Remember my why: Why do I love what I do? Why did I get started? Why do I want to work so hard to pursue this?
Challenge my thoughts: If I'm feeling negative, I try to challenge those thoughts and question their truth. They usually end up coming from a place of frustration.
I'm so glad that Des shared her story with the world. Even though she's one of the best runners in the world, by sharing her experience she's helping normalize things we all feel everyday. And she was able to work through them, rediscover her passion, and win the 2018 Boston Marathon, the first American women to do so in over three decades. She heads to Boston again on Monday April 15, 2019, to defend her title. Win or lose, I think she's already won.
To follow along or find out more about this year's Boston Marathon, click here.
We’ve all heard the expression, “you have to fail to succeed.” Losing a game, getting scored on, not playing one’s best; these are all common occurrences in youth soccer. How can we use those experiences to better our teams? As coaches, how can we create a healthy perspective about winning, losing, and adversity that supports individual and team improvement?
As coaches, we are privileged to be in a position to teach and inspire our youth to love sports and to return each year. We impact their development, teach them about teamwork, and contribute to their improvement. Teaching them how to handle adversity is a great way to enhance and foster their improvement and development.
In our society, winning is plastered EVERYWHERE and we learn early in life that winning must be important. Adults also get lost in the shuffle that “winning is everything.” It's a natural part of competition without questions. Unfortunately, kids start to adopt that same mentality and as a result may not know how to handle adversity or losing.
The funny thing is that most kids would put winning way down on their list of why they play a sport. They often list making friends, having fun, and enjoyment higher then winning. And most pro athletes would list adversity as one of the main reasons they are now successful. Teaching youngsters about finding opportunities for growth in both winning and losing will help them develop the right skills to handle those scenarios now and in the future in both sport and life.
One of my favorite approaches is the FEEL and DEAL approach. No matter what situation we’re faced with, feel and deal means to feel what we’re going through, then to deal with it. Learn from it, and then move on. This can be especially helpful when facing adversity. Every experience provides opportunities for growth.
It’s winning and learning not winning and losing
Creating a healthy perspective about losing and adversity can help youth in these ways:
Below, you’ll find a few tips how to talk about and approach adversity:
Encourage a growth mindset.
-The growth mindset says that we are all learners throughout life. Taking risks and making mistakes are necessary for growth. Our outlook about risks and mistakes can dictate our mindset and behavior. Encourage the growth mindset in your players, and try to live this as a coach.
Remind your team that winning isn’t everything.
-Do we want to win? YES! Is winning the most important thing? NO! Winning is a byproduct of many other things including preparation and effort. Even when we do those things, we still may not win.
-Mistakes and challenges can be the most teachable moments. Teach your team how to embrace and learn from them. Adopt the growth mindset, where learning comes from all experiences.
Talk to your team about failure and adversity.
-What is failure? What is adversity? What does it mean? How do we behave or respond to it? In the early stages of your season, define what failure and adversity mean and how to approach them. Check in and reinforce those themes regularly.
Ask more process related questions.
-What did we do well today? What was the most fun about today? What can we do better next time? Why do you think that didn’t go as well today? What did we learn? Give them a voice while providing some constructive feedback of your own.
Check your reactions to “mess-ups,” adversity, losing, and winning.
-What is your body language saying? What words are you using and how is your tone? Are you only cheering for good or positive performance behavior? Youngsters can quickly recognize conflicting words and body language, so be aware of how you’re reacting. Remember, they learn how to react to and approach these scenarios mostly by watching adults so the key is to be a good example.
Focus on what’s IN YOUR CONTROL.
-This is true for both coaches and players. Stay focused on things you can control like effort and preparation. Avoid worrying about things outside of your control, like outcome, opponents, and referees.
Practice positive self-talk.
-Helping youngsters develop good self-talk habits will help them approach sport and life with a “can do” attitude and not get too down on themselves. When you hear a player say a negative statement, ask them to rephrase it with something positive. The same goes for coaches; rephrase language to be positive or constructive.
Overall, it’s about balance. Kids are like sponges and develop their coping strategies towards winning and adversity based on what they observe in the grown ups that have the most influence in their lives – parent, teachers, coaches. Teach them to focus on the steps it takes to learn new things rather than the final results, and most importantly be a good example of this yourself.
Hey! I'm Katie, and I specialize in Mental Performance. I believe greatly in mindset and the role it plays in life.