When going through my classes in sport and exercise psychology, there was a topic in which I was extraordinarily interested. The topic is “hardiness”. Hardiness is defined as “the ability to endure difficult conditions”. What is exercise and training if not making us better mentally by applying a difficult physical condition?
However, I’d like to go back through this topic with you and explore the ways in which hardiness can be increased through exercise and sport.
In exercise, we make the body uncomfortable for the knowledge of physical/health gains. Usually greater gains are made with slight increases in discomfort over time. But, sometimes, we must push to the limit even if it is just to see how far we can go mentally. This is why it helps to have some sort of goal in mind so that there is a end to our means.
In sport, hardiness is increased in a variety of ways. One of the most evident is how we deal with winning and losing. Being humble in winning and utilizing losses as a means for improvement is a mental dynamic sports offer. Also, remembering that sport and game is not life but is analogous to the other challenges we may face.
Like exercise we have to train for our sport. In sports, as opposed to exercise, sometimes the gains we are looking can be more ambiguous. They may be disguised as setbacks. This tests our resiliency, emotional intelligence, and our belief in our abilities to find an answer to a problem.
In sport, we deal with injury. Injury can feel like a huge loss when we have endured difficult training to reach a goal and had a setback like an injury. A serious injury that threatens our ability to play the sport again is even a bigger challenge. How we react and recover is one of the biggest mechanisms for building hardiness.
So, work hard! Play hard! Then grab a beer to celebrate your growth this 4th of July weekend!
Jason Root, CSCS