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Toughness in college

Athlete Blog

Toughness in college

March 14, 2017

The topic of mental toughness is rampant everywhere. There are many articles, books, blogs, podcasts, vlogs and discussions about it everywhere you go. I thought I’d get in the mix myself and share my two cents about how I developed mental toughness during my time as a student-athlete and professional athlete.                            

Keep yourself uncomfortable.

This sounds a little strange, I know, but it’s true. If you are constantly comfortable, you’ll never grow. Comfortable people get complacent. You know how when you’re in a warm bed during a cold winter morning, you do not want to get out of bed at all, right? Make yourself uncomfortable by getting out of bed and wear thin layers. As a result, you’re more awake, focused, and on your feet. How does this apply to college? The more often you make yourself uncomfortable, the less things get to you. Think of it this way—if you’re in a nice comfortable daily routine and constantly stick to it, and then an unexpected incident takes place—you’ll get tripped up in things rather quickly. The more you keep yourself uncomfortable, the incidents won’t affect you as much.

What I did was that I would do my homework barefoot, drink coffee without cream (it’s a hard thing for me to do), and sleep on the couch once in a while. This made me appreciate the things I’m used to, and keeps me on my toes every day.

Physical and mental toughness go hand in hand.

I remember doing the cold shower challenge, and it was an eye-opening experience. I read an article that my buddy wrote, and I decided to take him up on the challenge. I’d hop in the shower and turn the dial right at the “C.” Freezing cold water hit me like a train, and I pulled out all the mental tricks in my playbook to keep myself in there for 15 minutes. I did it every day for around two weeks. It was not pleasant at all, but I noticed that after a few days of that, the cold water didn’t bother me as much. Because my body started to get conditioned to that, my mind did too. I’m not telling you to go jump in the cold shower, but I want to emphasize that this applies to the weight room, sports training, conditioning and so on.

It can go the other way around, especially with the Rochester weather. The majority of baseball games I played here in Rochester was in 40-degree weather. I’ve played in high winds, cold, rainy and hailing weather. The key to the team’s success was that we’ve mentally prepared ourselves to play in poor conditions before we hit the field. Once we did, our bodies didn’t react to it as much as someone from Florida would. Understanding the connection between physical and mental toughness is imperative to anyone’s success in and out of the classroom.