Post By: Rachel Hoeft, M.A. | Friday, April 17, 2020

leadership performance sport psychology

An athlete's levels of grit, resilience, and hardiness are of key importance in overcoming challenges such as draining endurance training, injury rehabilitation, or negativity from others. Resilience may be the deciding factor between one athlete's successful growth and another athlete's decision to quit sports, even if the two seem to be in near-identical situations (Pargman, 2007).

Grit, resilience, and hardiness are all pieces of mental toughness. Each of these words demands that the athlete can push through opposition and bounce back after they have hit some sort of resistance in their path, physical or metaphorical. Whatever the feat is, the athlete does not let up because “it's too hard.” They know that giving their best effort and trying, again and again, no matter how many times they fail will ultimately make them a fiercer competitor. As described by Kobasa, Maddi, and Kahn (1982), hardiness is one's ability to resist defeat when facing stressful life events.

It's no secret that athletics and sporting events require peak mental and physical performance. Athletes must be capable of falling down and getting back up or hearing their opponents say something negative and using it as fuel to play harder. An athlete is resilient when she encounters an obstacle and instead of thinking “How can I avoid this?” thinks “How can I overcome this?” The most resilient athletes know that giving their all, or “leaving it all on the field”, as my club soccer coach would say, means that they have done everything in their power to come out on top. And if they did leave it all on the field, they can be proud of themselves no matter the outcome, because you gave it your all and came out stronger.

So, how do you improve grit, resiliency, and hardiness? You find the internal motivation, and you set it on fire. Do you want to make the team? Show the coach that you will not give up no matter the size or age of your opponent. You sustained a season-ending injury and want to get back to playing? Devote all of your normal practice and competition hours into the rehabilitation process. Whatever your objective is, identify how overcoming this obstacle will make you stronger in the end. Speak it into truth. You will never be able to prevent these obstacles or hardships from coming your way, so the next best thing you can do is prove to yourself that they cannot stop you. Set your motivation on fire and follow it, and when you get there, don't forget to reflect on your hard work. Acknowledge every obstacle you conquered along the way and remind yourself that you can give yourself everything you want, and nobody can stop you.


Pargman, D. (2007). Psychological Bases of Sport Injuries (3rd ed). Morgantown, WV: Fitness

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