Mental toughness is the quality we all want to have when it comes to competing. It boils down to the ability to perform at your best despite adverse conditions. Mental toughness is not fixed; a team can be developed. And if you aren’t creating this skill through your whole season, you shouldn’t be surprised when it fails you at Nationals.
Mental toughness is a type of resilience under pressure and adverse circumstances. In skydiving, mental toughness is performing your best with a great attitude no matter what obstacles come your way.
It would be best if you made a strong effort to put your team into competitions during the season. Skydiving has relatively few competitions, which means less practice at bouncing back from bad rounds, recovering from brain locks, and being in high-pressure situations. Putting yourself in those circumstances is the best way to practice recovering from adversity.
If your team can’t make any competitions, or there are not enough, force some stressful situations.
I gleefully enjoy days where I construct hardships for the teams I coach. I push back their call but don’t tell them until they are ready to board, ask my friends on the plane to try and distract them on the way to altitude, or give them the wrong jump to prep.
On Rhythm, we would invite the whole dropzone over to watch us do a round from an old world meet and post the score in front of a crowd, good or bad.
Not every day can be a meet, and not every day can have duress added to it. Nature provides lots of opportunities in your daily training to practice overcoming.
Is it hot or cold out? Do you have a cold? Didn’t sleep well last night? Are the spots bad? Is the plane full of noisy and annoying people?
In regular training, these obstacles are something you might notice or mention. They might even be an excuse for why a jump went poorly. Instead of just letting it slide, practice seeing the distraction as soon as you can, resetting yourself with a breath, and reminding yourself of your goals. You might even think back to a time you have overcome a similar obstacle to have a wonderful jump.