Sport throws up so many opportunities for each player to develop and rugby is one of the best environments for that. There is no doubt though that during your rugby career, no matter if you lose to the All Blacks or you lose to the local Old Boy’s 4th XV, at some time, you are going to have to develop resilience in your character. That’s just the way it is. That’s sport.
Resilience is defined as being the “capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” and the “ability for a substance to spring back into shape” due to it’s elasticity. It’s all so easily applied to rugby. How do you cope with losing and how do you develop other areas of your game, your character and the team’s performance when times are tough? Take a lump of plasticine, imagine squeezing it hard on one end and you then get a big growth at the other. Imagine that as you being pressured in one area of your skill set, that part of the game or your skills aren’t being allowed to take hold, somewhere else has to step up, the other end, the growth end of the plasticine.
The fortunate thing in rugby is there is a team around you. Resilience as an individual is far easier to develop when you have the relative comfort of the team environment to support you as well as people that are willing to help you in your fellow players and your coaches. We should always feel like we can talk to coaches and players about things we are finding hard. Aside from the mental health issues, this helps you learn how to become resilient to problems you are facing which you need some assistance in getting past, it makes a difference.
The type of outlook you have can affect how resilient you are as a player. Are you an optimist or are you more of a pessimist, is the glass half full or half empty? If you see the down side and negative aspect of everything you won’t be at all resilient, you will roll over and concede at the earliest opportunity. When times are difficult you need to find a way to see the positives, what that gives you and how you can use that to be better as an individual and a person. Your outlook, should it be an optimistic choice will build your self esteem and self confidence, you will feel like you can move forward in a positive way should you be more resilient and it will help you maintain a level of performance. If you lose confidence and self esteem we all the know the consequences on performance and it will only be a downward spiral.
We need to learn to show how we can bounce back from mistakes and use them as something that makes us stronger. Don’t think that avoiding making mistakes all of the time is ultimately what makes us strong, at some point mistakes are made and it’s how we deal with them that makes the difference. Resilience helps us overcome the difficulties we may face as players, as a team or a club, how do we find a way to go through the tough times or how do we find a way to get around the problems. Be solution focussed rather than simply using the problems as point of focus. It makes massive difference when you meet someone like that and they are poles apart in their thinking. Problems solving is key to resilience and it’s something we need in rugby all of the time, the key to winning tough games and the key to finding your way back into the team after a spell when you miss out on selection. Find a way to get selected, find a way to win the game, solve the problems ahead of you rather than seeing the problem and shrugging your shoulders and giving up.