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Mental Skills - Adapt and Overcome

Matt Russ

We have all heard the phrase "adapt and overcome" but when faced with a situation that challenges us it takes skill, practice, and discipline to implement this strategy. To adapt requires flexibility; to overcome - resolve. These skills are not necessarily innate, but can be learned and practiced.

A key mental skill of successful athletes is the ability to push on, even excel, despite obstacles, setbacks, and failures. A good example is Craig Walton, winner of Saint Anthony's International triathlon. Craig entered his swim to bike transition only to find he had left his cycling shoes at home. Instead of giving up on the race he excelled. Cycling in his running shoes he caught the pack, passed them, and won the race.

Here are a few ways you can learn to adapt and overcome.

1. First identify exactly what you want and need out of a situation, and what is most important to you. Many athletes walk back to transition after having a flat that could have been changed in a few minutes and got them back into the race.

2. Do not get mired in the problem, look for solutions. Try to come up with several solutions to a given situation and then choose the best one. Focus on the solution and how to implement it; not the problem. What are the consequences of each decision?

3. Try to take emotion out of your decision making. It is easy to get frustrated, angry, and emotional but this really does not get you anywhere. Again, it causes you to focus on the problem and not find a solution or it may keep you from making the best decision. It also makes you look like you are not in control. I recently observed a racer screaming at an official to tell him where to turn (as he took the wrong one). If this person had just slowed down and listened he would have heard the official tell him "left."

4. Know your opponent. I encourage my age groupers to look at their opponents' splits from last year to determine how well they paced themselves. This can help you determine when to attack and when to hold back. Sometimes minutes can be made up over your opponent simply by practicing transitions. Knowing how your opponent reacts to certain situations can work to your advantage as well. Usually when someone reacts emotionally instead of logically it will work to your advantage. Your opponent does not have to be a person it can be a race course or even yourself. The athletes that know and practice on the course they will race on have a clear advantage.

5. Show uncommon resolve. You have to believe that no matter what you will not give up or tire. Once you know this about yourself you will be more confident in your ability to adapt and overcome.

6. Don't be afraid to make concessions. You may need to pull in the flats where you are stronger so that you do not get dropped in the mountains where you are weaker. You have to give in order to take. Try to give that which is least desirable in order to take what is most important to you.

There are many instances in which these skills will serve you as an athlete and in life. The next time you are faced with a difficult situation try using some of them. Often, just choosing and implementing a course of action will help you mentally as you begin moving through the problem.

Matt Russ has coached and trained athletes around the country and internationally. He currently holds licenses by USAT, USATF, and is an Expert level USAC coach. Matt coaches athletes for CTS, is an Ultrafit Associate, and owner of

Article Source: Articles Factory

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