What is Mental Toughness?
Today’s post ties in heavily with pushing your limits from yesterday.
Everyone can pick out someone who they feel is mentally tough. It is a little harder to put into words what that means.
Mental toughness is not the same thing as toughness. If you are a tough person you will go out there with a broken hand and win a match. You don’t let an injury get in the way of your goals. Mental toughness takes that and pushes it even further. Mental toughness is more about pushing yourself. It is about not allowing yourself to reach that breaking point we all have.
On the flip side, you also can pick the guy on your team that is mentally weak. The person that will break when an opponent applies pressure. The person who is always cheating themselves when doing exercises by cutting corners or being the first one done. If you are going to do something, what is the point in not doing your best? If you made the decision to wrestle at any level, you owe it to yourself, the sport, and your teammates to give it everything you have. Otherwise quit. You are wasting time and one day you will realize there’s not enough of it left to make up for all of it that you wasted.
Achieving Mental Toughness
To achieve mental toughness you have to be willing to reach your breaking point and then keep going. It is not easy to do. It is getting to the gym after practice to do a workout when all you want to do is watch TV with your friends. It is running sprints after you just wrestled live for an hour. It is being down by ten points in the final minute and trying to win the match anyway. It is running off that last pound when you didn’t think you could. It is also being the top seed, losing, and wrestling back for third.
Mental Toughness Example
A former teammate of mine from Rhode Island College is a great example. Ian Coyne (pictured above) was never pinned in high school or college. It had nothing to do with his wrestling abilities. Yes he was a good wrestler. But he had his share of bad losses. The key is that he never allowed himself to feel sorry and give up. You have to give up to be pinned. There is no way around that.
A former coach of mine always used to say, “If your back was on a hot metal plate, you’d get up.” He was and is still right. Not allowing yourself to be pinned is mental toughness. There must have been many times when Coyne could have given up and let a pin happen. That is the easy way out. I can remember one clear instance when he was wrestling the top ranked wrestler in the country and was down 10-1 in the final period. He continued to come after his opponent and frustrated him greatly. He may have lost the match but his spirit was not broken. This example of mental toughness is something all wrestlers should strive to do.
Make it one of your goals to never be pinned again. If you want that bad enough, the next time you find yourself on your back, you will have the mental toughness to get off it and once you’re off of it, to come back and win.