by Dr. Robert Troutwine
My last blog talked about the mental toughness on display during the World Series. It was right after game two and I promised that more examples of mental toughness would be on display in game three. This prophecy became true as a World Series unfolded. The Kansas City Royals put on an exhibition of mental toughness that excited not only the hometown crowd but people across the country. The Mets also had many examples and their fan base has much to be proud of.
Now, it is a new year and the second round of NFL playoffs will be played tomorrow and Sunday. In the first round of playoffs with the wild-card teams, many of the games came down to the special teams. As we’ve heard 1000 times, the kicking game is one third of the picture. The players on special teams are often backups and of course the kickers only come in when the game situation demands it.
This is very similar to relief pitchers. Just imagine you sit there and watch a whole game unfold. Momentum and the scoreboard change sides many times throughout the game. Then, in the last few moments, you are asked to come in, off the bench and cold. You have to perform at your very best. This is a very unique kind of mental toughness. If you choke, you single-handedly lose the game for your team. If you succeed, you are the hero. All of this adds up to an enormous amount of pressure.
Those who can answer the call to this type of pressure emulate many qualities. It’s not enough to be competitive and motivated. You have to be able to control your emotions and even your physical arousal. You have to remain confident and composed. You can’t let yourself get wrapped up in the moment or let your emotions run wild. You have to drown out the distractions and become completely focused.
We will see what this weekend series of NFL playoff games shows but once again, you can count on mental toughness being on display.