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How Do You Handle Adversity?

by Danny McLarty, CSCS New Direction Personal Fitness and Sports Performance

There you are, in the final seconds of the biggest game of the year. All eyes on you. How are you feeling? Do you want to run away and hide? Does everything seem to be going by way too fast for your comfort level? Or are you at ease? Do you feel like your preparation has put you in a place to successfully handle this situation? While there are many factors that determine the outcome, I believe there is one major factor that increases your chances of failure or success when pressure is at its highest.

What am I speaking of here? It has to do with adversity, and how you handle it. There are times in life, when everything is clicking. The ball is bouncing your way, you are named homecoming king, and your parents just told you they are going to let you go to Cabo for spring break with your buddies. Life is good, you're on top of the world! But what happens when the tide begins to turn? In the basketball world, it looks something like this; you are up 10 with 2:00 minutes to go. All of a sudden your opponent starts to catch a little fire. They call time-out and come out with a full court press. Your team turns it over on back to back possessions, they hit consecutive 3's, and it's down to four. You can't even get the ball across half court. What do YOU do? Do you run down to the other end of the court, hope that your teammates do NOT pass the ball your way, and pray that they bail you out? Or do you take control and go get the ball as you know they are forced to foul with only a minute play? Then calmly step to the line, hit your free throws and end the game?

I say, how you react to this adverse situation, was determined long before your opponent slapped that full court press on you. It was determined in practice, in the weight room, and anywhere in life when you faced adversity. You must force yourself to get comfortable with adversity. How do you do this? You must put yourself in adverse situations during your training. When coach has you doing line drills, you run AS HARD AS YOU CAN until you cross that last line, EACH AND EVERY TIME! You give EVERYTHING YOU HAVE on each set in the weight room. You know how it feels (or maybe you don't). You are about to perform a set of 8 reps of squats. Reps 1-4 go well. On rep 5 you notice that little tremble in your legs, but you are still hanging in there. Then, on rep 6, everything changes. You feel like Shaq just jumped on your back, and your body and mind are screaming at you to rack the weight. You are once again faced with adversity. You can rack it and take the easy way out, or you can say, "bring it on bar, I own you!" You decide to go with the latter, and grind out reps number 7 and 8. When your body wanted to quit on you during those sprints in practice, and during those last couple of reps in the weight room, the power of your mind didn't let it happen. You do this long enough, and it just becomes who you are - a tough as nails player that is ready to handle any adverse situation that presents itself.

If you are the type of person that takes the easy way out in practice, in the weight room, and in any tough situation in life, then you will be "that player," that hides down at the other end of the court when your teammates are getting trapped in the corner 90 feet away. If you are the type of person that says bring it on, when you are conditioning in practice, and under the bar in the weight room, then you will be "that player," that thrives in the face of adversity.

About the author:

Danny McLarty, CSCS, is a fitness coach at New Direction Fitness in Danville, California. Danny's coaching helps athletes get stronger and more explosive for their sport. He also is a Basketball Skills Coach where he helps individuals and groups improve their ability to get open with and without the ball in their hands. Danny was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame in April of 2007. He accomplished this while standing at a height of 5'7". He can be contacted at dmclarty1110@hotmail.com

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