Confident Sport Re-Entry: Day 1 – Resilience

Confident Sport Re-Entry – Day 1: Resilience

Hello, everybody.  I’m coach Rebecca Smith with Complete Performance Coaching and the PerformHappy community.  Today’s live is day one of my three-day video series that I am calling successful sport reentry.  This series is going to center around three very important things that as athletes go back into their sport, they want to have a tip-top.  Today’s focus is on resilience or bouncing back.

Bouncing Back

All of us – parents, athletes, coaches, humans, animals, even, we are all having to bounce back from this unprecedented situation.  We’re getting back into life, we’re getting back into sport, and I’ve been hearing a whole gamut of things from athletes going in and feeling great, stronger than ever.  They’re so excited and grateful to be back and they have the best mindset possible.


However, I’ve also heard of people getting injuries so fast, shin splint and wrist pain, and their bodies have sort of relax too much so they’re getting back into it and they’re having injuries.  They’re having setbacks on top of a three-month setback.

Then, there are also athletes who are struggling with fear.  Even if you’re not back, even if you haven’t had your first practice back, you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, am I going to get back my skills  I worked so hard on?  I don’t want to be stuck anymore,” or you’re back and things are hard or things are scarier, so you might need a little support no matter where you’re at along that spectrum.  Just know that I’m going to give you some information and tools this week to help you out; that’s my goal.  We’re going to do about 30 minutes each day and I’m going to teach you one skill each day.  We’re going to do some exercises and we will do our best to have you come out of these three days feeling more confident and that you can be really successful.

I’m going to start with a quote from Gabby Douglas who says,

“My message is to never quit, never give up.  When you have a little trouble here and there, just keep fighting.  In the end, it will pay off.”

Another quote from Andrew Zolli is this is the definition of resilience.  He says,

“Resilience is the ability of people, communities, and systems to maintain their core purpose and integrity among unforeseen shocks and surprises.”

Resilience is Relevant Outside of Sport

We’ve had countless shocks and surprises that have affected entire communities, entire cultures, not just the sport community.  Resilience is something that we can all benefit from in this space and time.  As I mentioned before, I think about resilience as the ability to bounce back.  Imagine that you have a rubber ball and you’re bouncing it.  Every single time you put it down, it comes back up, every single time.  It’s resilient.  It doesn’t complain about it, it doesn’t whine, and it doesn’t say, “Oh, I wish it was different,” it just comes right back up.

Now, if you had a ball of playdough and you were trying to bounce it, playdough is not resilient.  The ball is and that is how we want to be.  When life pops you down, be like the little clown blow-up doll that just comes right back up.  When you just keep getting knocked down, just keep getting back up.  That’s the person who is the champion, the one who gets up the most.  It’s not the one who never gets knocked down who gets so lucky in life.  No Olympic champions have a story of, “I just got so lucky and it all worked out for me.”  No, you hear, “I wanted to quit here.  I wanted to give up here.  This I thought was going to take me out.  This was too hard, but my dream was so big that I just got up and kept going.”

We’re going to talk about dreaming a little bit tomorrow, but today we’re talking about that ability to get up.

10 Ingredients to Resilience

If you were baking a cake called resilient athlete, it would have these 10 ingredients in it.  What I want you guys to do is grab a piece of paper and write down a score for each of these things.  Grab a pen and start ranking yourself on a skill, 1-10.  10 is high and one is low.

1. Positive Attitude

2. Motivation

3. Focus – focusing on what’s important

4. Social Support – teammates, coaches, family members.  People who can really help pump you up.

5. Confidence 

6. Challenge, skill, balance – are you challenging yourself enough or too much? If you’re challenging yourself too much, it’s going to make you not that resilient because you’re not having fun.  If you’re not challenging yourself enough, you’re not going to be fired up enough or excited enough about your goals.

7. Striving for Excellence – wanting more out of your sport, out of life.  Not just wanting to sit and watch Netflix.

8. Hope

9. Fighting Spirit 

10. Communication

Go through and rank how 1-10 for each of these ingredients.  You will have a score that adds up to a percentage and a number out of 100.  Take a second and do a little math and find out your resilience score.  There is no right answer, but what I want you to recognize through this process is if you have room for improvement.  If you’re seeing, “Oh, I’m low on that.  I’m not good at communicating,” or, “My confidence could definitely serve to be a little bit better,” whatever it is, notice if there’s one, in particular, that’s holding you back from bouncing back.  Where’s your room for improvement?  When you pinpoint where there’s room for improvement, then you can easily get some action steps in place.


Now, we’re going to do a little exercise on something that underlies all of those things.  We have those 10 ingredients that set you up for resilience, that allow you to be the ball that bounces, the little bouncy clown who just keeps coming back up with a smile on his face.  What gets you to that place where you can be motivated, excited, and hopeful… to keep popping back up is something called self-worth.  Self-worth ties in directly to this time that we’re in.

Self-worth is one of those, “Yay!  Feel good about yourself!  Hooray!” kind of things that people, especially teenagers, wonder, “How is that going to help me in my sport?”  I’ll explain it to you in a little bit after we do a little exercise.

What does it mean to have self-worth?

Self-worth, for our purposes, I’m going to define as a feeling that you’re a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.  If you have that, if you deeply understand that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect, it will change everything.  I want to tell you a quick story about a girl who I used to coach.  I was a gymnastics coach for about 15 years.  My nemesis was the beam when I was a gymnast, because I couldn’t go backwards.  I’d get mental blocks and I would freeze up and I was always the kid in tears.  I was always the kid who said, “Oh, my back.  I can’t do any more back walkovers.”  It really did hurt, but I think my brain was telling me I was in pain and not to do it.

Connecting Self-Worth to Performance

I was coaching beam (of course I ended up being the beam coach) and we were at a competition with one of my level nine gymnasts, a pretty high-level gymnast.  She had two passes on the beam (her two challenging passes), one was a switch leap back tuck, and one was a backhand spring, back layout or backhand spring – backhand spring series.  She had these two challenging passes and she had this idea that she could only ever get one.  If she made the first one, she’d fall on the second one.  If she missed the first one, she nailed the second one because she’d think, “What do I have to lose now?”

Now, she’s at this meet and she fell on one of the passes which she had been doing in practice.  Totally reasonable, it wasn’t automated yet.  It wasn’t confident yet, but she fell on one of them.  Then she gets off the beam and she comes to me with her head hung, and she says, “I’m a horrible person.”  And it absolutely broke my heart.  I was like, “Are you kidding?  You’re the least bad person I know on this planet.”

This girl was the hardest worker and she cared so much and she was the kindest teammate. She came off that beam because she fell.  She still got like a 9.2 with a fall and she comes to me with her head hung because she truly believed she was a horrible person because she made that mistake.

Self Affirmations

She lacked self-worth.  She didn’t have the feeling that she was a good person who was worthy of love and respect when she didn’t perform well.  I think a lot of us have that.  I know I have an affirmation on my wall that says “I’m valuable, no matter what I do and no matter who notices” because I need that constant reminder.  It’s not about me being like, “Hey, do you like me?  Give me some comments.  Give me some testimonials, then I’ll be okay.”  I can’t operate that way.  I have to know I’m okay.  I have a message and I will deliver it.  If people like it, great.  If they don’t like it, that’s okay.  I’m okay.  Even if I totally blow it and you’re thinking, “Wow, what a waste of time,” I’m okay.

How do you define your self-worth?

I want to have a little chat here about how you build self-worth.  I’m going to give you a series of different questions.  Then you decide, does this build self-worth or does it not?

  • Does your value depend on your goals? 
  • Do you think that you have more value when you have bigger goals?
  • Does your age determine your value?
  • Does your appearance determine your value?
  • Does what other people think of you determine your value?
  • Does having better grades make you more valuable?
  • Does being popular give you more value? 
  • Does going after your goals and achieving them make you more valuable?
  • Does what you like make you more valuable? 
  • Does what you say give you more valuable? 
  • Does what you think make determine your value? 

Give yourself a point for each question you answered “yes” to.  Give yourself a grand total and see how many of those you feel like contribute to your value, your self-worth.  Now I have a question for you.  Here’s 20 bucks.  Does anybody want this?  Do you want me to just put this in an envelope and mail it to anybody?  I’m going to assume we all would take this right?  If we’re all in the room together and I ask, “Who wants this money?” You’d all say, “Sure, I’ll take it.”  But what if I smash it up?  It was a really nice 20 dollar bill, and now it’s all crumpled up and ugly.  Do you still want it?

The Value Hasn’t Changed

I did this with my members at PerformHappy the other day and they all said, “Yeah, we still want that.”  Even though it’s all right, it doesn’t look as nice.  It’s probably not going to go in the vending machine anymore, but you still want it, even though it’s all racked.  Now, what if I stomped on it?  What if I rubbed it in the dirt or yelled at it and said, “You’re no good!”  What if I told you that this is the worst 20 ever?  It has done nothing good, nothing. T his is the worst 20 dollar bill on the planet because it’s made some really bad decisions in its life and it’s actually not very nice.  Do you still want it?  The answer is yes.

The value exists regardless of what it looks like or what its history is.

Value is Inherent

The only thing that dictates something’s value is that it exists.  What determines your worth as a human is the fact that you exist, that you are here, and therefore you are worthy of love and respect.  Even if you had a bad meet, even if you were a total jerk to your parents, even if you bullied somebody in the fifth grade, even if you’ve had a bad day or you had no effort, or you beat up on your little brother.  That’s something I had a lot of guilt over the years.

No matter what, you still are deserving of love and respect.  That has to be the foundation underneath your confidence.  If you don’t believe that about yourself, if you don’t believe, “I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be successful, I deserve to be loved, I deserve to be respected,” you will be sabotaging yourself and your confidence will always be a little fragile.

There are three different core issues that I have found that prevent someone from getting lasting relief from a mental block or fear and self-worth is one of them.  No matter what happens, you’re still worthy.  You’re still worthy of love and acceptance.

Vignette of a Gymnast

I want to give you a couple of examples of self-worth and then we’ll wrap it up for the day.  I want you to tell me if this guy has healthy self-worth or not so healthy.  Let me tell you about Sam.  Sam is a pretty good gymnast.  He usually gets good scores at meets and gets on the podium.

At least a couple of times at his last meet, he got really nervous and made a bunch of mistakes and only took home one medal.  He feels really bad about himself.  He knows how important the scores are to his coach and his parents and he feels like he’s a horrible person for letting everybody down.  Healthy self-worth or not healthy.  I bet some of you can relate to that, thinking, “Oh, I let everybody down.  I’m the worst.  I want to crawl into a cave.  I’m no good.  I know how important this was to everybody.”

Vignette of a Student

I’m going to read you another one.  Spoiler alert, Sam’s example is not healthy self-worth.  Now I’m going to talk to you about Jessie.  Jessie is not a great student.  She gets mostly Bs and Cs.  Even when she spends a ton of time studying, she doesn’t get great scores on her tests.  She’s an average reader, she’s a struggling writer, and she’s definitely not a mathematician.  Even though Jessie wishes that she had better grades, she still feels pretty good about herself.

Jessie knows that grades aren’t everything and she’s just as valuable a person as her straight A’s friends.  Healthy or not healthy?  She doesn’t have good grades, but she knows that they’re not everything and she’s just as valuable a person as her straight-A friends.

So now what we’ll talk about Sam again.  Same scenario.  Sam is a good gymnast.  He usually gets good scores in meets and usually gets on the podium.  At least a couple of times at his last meeting he got really nervous and made a bunch of mistakes.  He only took one metal.  Even though he wishes that he hit his routines at the meet, he knows that scores are not everything.  He still feels just as valuable as his teammates who had a great meet.  Healthy or not healthy?  Healthy.

How Healthy Self-Worth Affects Your “Ingredients”

Now, let’s go back to our ingredients for resilience.  If you know that you’re okay and scores are not everything, you’re going to have a better attitude.  Motivation – if you know that, no matter what happens, it’s all good, you deserve love still, you’re going to be more motivated to try and risk failing.  If you know that you’re going to be okay, no matter what, you can stay focused on what matters.  You can focus on what’s important if you’re not so worried about disappointing everybody all the time.

Social support and unity, that’s going to be better if you’re a positive influence, instead of the person who’s sulking in the corner after a bad performance.  You’re going to be a better teammate if you’re proud of their successes instead of being jealous.  You’re going to be more confident, you’re going to be able to choose bigger challenges for yourself, you’re going to strive for excellence, you’re going to have more hope, and you’re going to have a fighting spirit.  You are going to be able to communicate better because you know it doesn’t really matter what other people think of you and you can speak your truth.

So that is my spiel for today.  I want you to tap into that self-worth and know that no matter what happens, you still have value.  Thank you for watching.  I will be back tomorrow to talk about mental toughness.  In the last part of our series, we are going to talk about confidence.  For those of you who want more support, more goodies, more tools, you can click here to download your sport-confidence roadmap.  Uplevel your confidence and check that out.  I will see you tomorrow. Thanks for being here.

Is your gymnast struggling with mental blocks or fear?  Check out my FREE resource for parents.