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The Mentally Tough Player

There are many coaches who feel above even athleticism and knowledge of the game, the number one quality that a championship athlete has is supreme mental toughness. 

In an article on the USA Basketball web site, author Spencer Wood writes that “Mental toughness is arguably the one attribute that most often determines the outcome of games, particularly in the critical pressure-filled crucible of post-season play.”

Wood writes: “Some coaches and players believe mental toughness is all about how hard we compete and push ourselves, while others believe that mental toughness is more about how well we perform under pressure.  Still others believe that mental toughness is all about how well we respond and bounce back from mistakes or adversity, such as a bad call or no call from a referee, an unlucky bounce, or how well we maintain our confidence when our opponent is playing very well and is making a big run with all of the game’s momentum on their side.”

The question exists: Can a coach teach mental toughness to his or her players? Wood believes the answer to the question is “yes.”  Wood’s concept for teaching an athlete toughness involves the “5 C’s”—Composure, Concentration, Confidence, Commitment, and Character.

Wood lists three qualities of behavior for mentally tough players:

1. The Mentally Tough Player rarely makes excuses. The player doesn’t try to rationalize losing, not playing well, getting outplayed by an opponent.  Instead, a mentally tough player accepts responsibility for his or her role in the mistake and focuses on things that he/she can do better to make the situation and outcome better next time.

2. The Mentally Tough Player  has great worth ethic.  “The mentally tough player plays extremely hard in practice and carries that same high intensity into games, Wood writes: “The mentally tough player thinks that every practice and game is important and deserves their best effort.”

 3.  The Mentally Tough Player is very coachable. This athlete maintains eye contact when the coach is giving instruction—her or she doesn’t roll their eyes when they do not agree with their coach, “nor do they pout or shrink into a shell of self-pity when the coach criticizes them,” Wood writes.  “Instead the mentally tough player listens carefully to their coach, nods their head to show that they are listening and then works hard to try to do what the coach has asked.”  This type of athlete loves opportunities to learn and improve.

Click here to read the article.

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