Mental Edge: How to keep fighting after a poor start to competition

Photo: Bay State Running

Mental Edge: How to keep fighting after a poor start to competition

High School Sports

Mental Edge: How to keep fighting after a poor start to competition


Every athlete at some point feels they don’t have “it” today in a competition.

You know the feeling, from the onset of a game, match or competition, you have difficulty getting psyched up to perform. You start off slow or with mistakes and you can’t seem to get into the flow of the game.  You feel your game is off and you are not exactly sure why.

Think of a time when you just didn’t have “it.” You probably realized quickly from the start of the competition that your game was off. How did you respond? Did your mind run wild with negativity? Did you become angry or frustrated? Did you conclude: “This is not my day,” and resign yourself to the fact that it was going to go poorly?

Many athletes who conclude, “I don’t have it,” give up mentally. The thought process is, “Since I don’t have it, there is nothing I can do about it, so why even try.”When you start to think this way during competition, your self-fulfilling prophecy will turn into a poor performance. Not all athletes respond in this negative manner.

Mentally tough athletes keep fighting even though they know that they are not having one of their top performances. Being off their game does not cause mentally tough athletes to stop fighting.

On the contrary, when mentally tough athletes feel they don’t have it, they fight harder, dig deeper and compete tougher. There will always be ups and downs throughout a competition. If you can’t fight through the rough patches, you’ll be knocked out of the game at the first sign of adversity.So when you don’t have it physically, that is the precise time when you need to pick it up mentally.

Keeping the fight alive is your most valuable weapon when things aren’t clicking.

The ability to grind out your game for the rest of the competition is a sign that you can get the job done without your A game. Look for ways to change the momentum to get back into the competition. Maybe a good break, a positive call from an official, or a good play can turn it around for you.  Embrace the fact that you will struggle at times and be prepared mentally to grind it out — then you will always have a fighting chance.

Start by learning how to keep your confidence tank high!


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