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Why toughing it out won’t toughen you up

Jan 07 2013

Although it is a commonly applied training method for athletes, the "tough it out" approach is changing in modern sports training and thinking. Being a tough and competitive athlete IS important, but having fear and being unsure of yourself during training and competition is not necessarily the best way.


Studies are showing that people who endure too much "tough it out training" start to avoid the things they fear within that regimen and their performance in those areas often declines instead of improves. It is actually the mind's way of trying to protect our bodies from the thing we fear – thereby restricting our performance when we need it most. To an athlete this mental hesitation and doubt can lead to performance issues.

There is a balance, and in many sports once an athlete has mastered a skill, the occasional misstep is not usually a setback to forward training as long as the athlete is consistently performing the skill. In the situation, however, where the athlete is not comfortable with a skill - and upon attempt has bad or even painful results, than a change in training style may make sense.

Coaches and parents can play a big role in this by encouraging young athletes to stretch their envelopes, while at the same time encouraging them to take precautions. By training smart, using padding and protection when needed, and gaining confidence in what they do, athletes will boost their confidence and will know they can do a skill – without fearing the miss.