Jackson, the successful NBA basketball coach, emphasizes the act of resilience
as the most important quality in a successful player. Resilience in an athlete
is to be able to experience an inevitable set back (missed shot, opponent
success, an official’s call, or even a peak success) and almost immediately
refocus to the next play. They do not get caught up in self-criticism or,
for that matter, self-congratulations. They stay in the flow of a game as
a continually moving forward activity and respond to it naturally without
self-conscious reflection. What happened before gets quickly stored as experience
(not as wistful regret or worry) and what happens ahead is not the distant
outcome but an immediate reaction to the circumstances that are unfolding.
Solutions to the problem: By knowing the dynamics of what is taking
place to create the negative performance situation, we are thereby can offer
methods to solve the problem. The following are suggestions:
1. Understand how the mind-body reaction state takes place. More importantly,
realize that you can deliberately alter or control this response pattern.
We call this ability self-regulation. The goal of self-regulation is to recognize
that physical reactivity, which is usually a stressing or tightening experience,
can be managed therefore part of the solution is to understand how physical
arousal can be controlled. Most athletes have some strategies that they have
utilized over the course of their experience to calm down or psych up. However,
very few of these athletes have learned to do this in a very systematic manner
with clear knowledge of how to implement these strategies with volition in
competitive situations. This ability can be taught to nearly every person.
2. Recognize that there is a natural inclination, when something “goes
wrong,” to attempt to solve that situation by what becomes a counter
productive response. That response frequently utilized by many competitive
athletes is to try harder. Trying harder usually means putting more pressure
and demands on one’s self in order to correct the problem with effort.
Paradoxically, this increases the tension or anxiety response that is the
culprit in preventing one from getting back to homeostasis or natural ability.
Think of the example of a rubber band. A rubber band has considerable elasticity
and flexibility. If you hold the rubber band with a minimum amount of tautness
between two fingers you will note that you still have flexibility on how
that rubber band can be directed or used. However, if you pull the rubber
band creating more tautness the tension goes up and the rubber band has less