3 Types of Adversity in Sports

Did you know that Gratitude and Adversity in Sports actually go hand in hand? Adversity acts as a coach for each of us. It sharpens us, shows us the way to go, and tests us beyond what we think we are capable of. Adversity ISN’T comfortable. And that’s why it might seem odd that gratitude and adversity in sports go hand in hand… 

Let’s Get Started

Because there are many different VARIATIONS of adversity, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to attack each obstacle as it comes up. Let’s first start by looking at the different TYPES of adversity that we may come up against:

1. Swimming Specific VS Life Lessons Learned Through Adversity in Sports

Adversity can come in many forms, both swimming-specific and broad, life lessons. Swimming-specific adversity is oftentimes things we can account for: a missed flipturn, a broken goggle strap. I recommend to my swimmers to PLAN for this type of adversity. Before a big meet, VISUALIZE what you would do if your goggles snapped right behind the block. Some swimmers know which friends on the team wear the same goggles as them. Some carry an extra pair. Either way, HAVE A PLAN (Blog Post About This HERE), and PRACTICE. That way you can stay calm when the problem arises.

On the flip side, swimming will also get you into situations that are meant to teach you lessons that you’ll carry with you throughout your life. The difficulty of getting to the pool day in and day out at early hours will teach you discipline. The adversity of trying to balance school deadlines with swimming goals will teach you resilience. Being on a team with many different personalities will teach you about relationships. Regardless of what it is you’re facing, it helps to take a step back and look at what you’re learning from whatever difficulty you’re going through. Morning practice sounds a lot better if you switch your mindset from “UGH I have to get up in the morning” to “ I have to get up in the morning and I will earn resilience and the ability to work hard as a result.”

2. Short-Term VS Long-Term Adversity

Adversity can happen over different periods of time, both long and short. Perhaps you come up with an obstacle that only takes a day to remove. Or perhaps you push up against one for months and months, not knowing when you will be able to either get through the wall or get around it. 

Leaning on your teammates and friends will ALWAYS help you overcome adversity.

In the short-term, we learn how to think on our feet and how to PROBLEM SOLVE. On the flip side, it is oftentimes here, in the long-term adversity that we learn MENTAL TOUGHNESS. Divide it in your brain as such. If you come up against a problem that is all about the short-term, switch to logical thinking and work on problem solving. If you come up against a problem that could be around for the long-term, think about how to keep yourself emotionally healthy as you work through it, and remind yourself just how mentally tough you are.

3. Personal VS Team Adversity

A lot of the adversity we bump up against in swimming is PERSONAL. Whether it be an injury that only you got (4 Common Swimming Injuries Here), a time that only you are trying to go after, or some other mental or emotional struggle, it can feel like we are up against our personal adversity ALONE. But the reality could not be farther from the truth. In fact, one of the best ways to deal with personal adversity is to share it. Find a support structure for yourself within your team, your coaches, your friends, and your family, and share your struggles. Having someone to just listen or to give you advice (but make sure to specifically ask if you need a listener or an advice giver) can be the very thing that helps you break through that adversity. Also, know how swimming can Affect Your Mental Health to get a jump start on personal challenges that WILL come your way.

with OLY, Samantha Livingstone

I co-hosted a webinar with Olympian, Samantha Livingstone from Livingstone High Performance. Click HERE to watch the replay and get the workbook for FREE!

On the flip side, we often find adversity AS A TEAM. Team adversity can be tricky. With so many people, it can be difficult to get to the root of the difficulty. That’s why communication is ESSENTIAL. As a team, you need to be able to have the hard conversations. As a team, you need to decide what your goals are for the year. And as a team, you need to be able to hold each other accountable. That’s the only way you’ll get through adversity as a team. And it depends on trust in one another. 

Thanks For Adversity in Sports

As you can see, there are many different types of adversity. But the thing that all types of adversity have in common is that THEY MAKE US STRONGER. This Thanksgiving season, let’s give THANKS for adversity. Let’s give thanks for the things that make you stronger, through both day in and over the long haul, both small obstacles and mountainous ones, both personal and relationship based. Each of us wouldn’t be the person that we are today without them. And although it’s the most difficult thing in the world to see at the moment, when we get distance on the difficult thing, we can be GRATEFUL

And of course, I give thanks to all of you. Building a business is NOT easy. There’s all sorts of adversity and more. Sometimes it feels insurmountable. But having a purpose, a why, a guiding star, is what allows me to keep going. And that purpose is helping each and every one of you to achieve your dreams both in and out of the water. Adversity in Sports is truly a blessing.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish and the Swim Like A. Fish Family

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