Blog article by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2X Guinness World Records™ holder
Mental toughness is often incorrectly used interchangeably with resilience. Psychologists define resilience as a positive adaptive process of coping with adversity and stress, as opposed to a group of personality traits or psychological attributes. In other words, mentally tough describes someone’s personality but resilience is a process to handle situations.
In her second TED talk, Jane McGonigal discusses four types of strength in the form of resilience: Physical, Mental, Emotional and Social.
Strength in sports comes in forms that may surprise you. The four types of strength are:1. Physical resilience, 2. Mental resilience, 3. Emotional resilience, and 4. Social resilience.
Physical Resilience is the most obvious and most commonly known form of strength. Being able to resist force. Being malleable to flex with stress and pressure and not too rigid to break under pressure. In tennis many coaches and players tell themselves to “move their feet.” This gets their blood going, getting them breathing more oxygen and ultimately is a physical way to get the mind working. Absorbing someones force rather than crumbling from it.
Mental Resilience is the second type of strength. Just like any muscle, the brain needs to be exercised. Specifically, the will to win is one of the strongest emotions an athlete can have. Will power can grow if you work on it. One way to improve it is setting small goals and achieving them. With each accomplished goal your will to reach the next goal is born from success and confidence.
Thirdly, Emotional Resilience relates to emotional intelligence or control. Fully understanding the beneficial effects of positive emotion and the detrimental effects of negative emotion is important to success in sports. What goes up must come down. If your positive outbursts are too many and over the top then when things don’t go your way you can’t help but to react negatively. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson discovered that experiencing positive emotions broadens people’s minds and builds their resourcefulness in ways that help them become more resilient to adversity and effortlessly achieve what they once could only imagine. In her book Positivity, she explains that one negative emotion can neutralize at least three positive ones. You can even take a Positivity Self Test. I’ve heard that in tennis, for every negative expression of “NO!” we would require 10 positive outbursts like “C’MON” to return to neutral. Staying away from negative emotions is of critical importance to being strong.
Finally, the 4th Strength is Social Resilience. When you connect with someone in person it boosts your positive energy. Like giving your doubles partner a high five after a great shot. This positive gesture with give you an energy boost. The Bryan Brothers do this well with their signature chest bump after winning a great point or hitting a great shot. Even in individual sports, it takes a team to get the job done. In tennis, there is the player, technique coach, fitness trainer, nutritionist/physio, stats analyst, and mental skills coach to name a few. Working as a team with a team that believes in your vision and abilities is important to your social resilience.
Remember that whether you consider yourself mentally tough or not, you can improve on your 4 types of strength.
You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
FOX News Story
Inspirational Tennis Story: Tennis Begins with Love
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