5 Ways To Be A More Resilient Athlete


What the best and most successful athletes have in common is not that they do not make mistakes. They all do. They have an incredible ability to recover from these mistakes. These athletes have a recovery strategy, whether it is known to themselves or they perform this strategy unknowingly, we view these athletes as being resilient.

Defining resilience is easy:

It is the ability to bounce back positively after a mistake, loss or any negative situation.

Defining the skills and behaviours of resilient people however is not as simple, as there are a range of skills involved. What is important to realise, is that resilience is not a personality trait or behavioural style.

Resiliency is a skill anyone can learn.

Here are 5 tips to help build resilience:


This is a simple concept which most people likely do already. However, the point is to become more conscious of the resilience process, so it can be performed when demanded, particularly in the pressure of a competition environment. Reframing is the process of changing the way you view a situation, or event, etc.

Instead of viewing something in a negative way, we can choose to view it in a more positive way.

For example, instead of viewing a loss as failure, you can choose to view it as a learning experience of what to do better next time.

You cannot change the result, but you can change what the result means, and this is what reframing is all about. Seeing yourself as a failure is not likely to help you improve. Resilient athletes are going to see a loss as a valuable opportunity to learn from their performance and even view how the winner performed as a learning tool.

Control and Influence Model

At some point in time, most athletes have been (or should be) exposed to the “Control and Influence Model”. This is a model for understanding those situations, events and challenges of which you have complete, 100% control over and those situations you have influence over and then finally the situations you no influence or control over.

Essentially, we need to spend our energy dealing with those situations where we have control and then influence and not to consume any energy over events of which we have no control.

Attribution of Success or Failure

Success is not someone else’s responsibility. The same goes for poor performances.

Resilient athletes attribute poor performance to something they “did” or the great performance of their opponent, not to who they are deep inside.

For example, if a great tennis player loses the final, they are more likely to say “today my opponent played an exceptional game” or “today I felt I could have executed my shots better and made better choices at those critical moments”.

This is different to what a player who lacks resilience says, such as, “I am not a good player. I lacked belief in myself and did not trust myself to take risks”. What this player is actually doing is defining who they are and their inability to play good tennis.

Attachment to Your Support Team

Resilient people always have a strong support team of people they trust, have acceptance from, are secure with and feel like they belong to. What is critical is in order to boost your resiliency, you must feel as though you are exceptionally well supported.

When an athlete or anyone, is confronted with a significant obstacle or have been knocked down by a certain event, those who have a wonderful support team, are likely to manage that situation more effectively and this means recovering faster.

Highly Developed Technical Skills

Athletes who are exceptionally technically and physically competent are usually more resilient to setbacks in their performance. When an athlete has experienced a poor performance, those who have high level skills, realise recreating a successful result is not about reinventing their whole process.

Instead, technically advanced athletes can recall the times when they had previous success and go back to the basics of their technique which delivered this initial success.

This helps them rebound faster than if the athlete has a poorer level of skill and needs to also be thinking about the establishment and improvement in their basic skill levels.

Get in touch through social media and let us know how these tips have helped improved your resilience and what has worked best for you. Also, check out our website for more posts like this. If things ever get too much and you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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