All of us will inevitably deal with setbacks while preparing for a major event or even during an event. A setback can be seen as a difficulty of achieving a desired goal. This is something that blocks your ability to perform well in a competition or training. Setbacks may be generated by a physical injury that prevents you from training, but it can also be mentally due to pressure, negative thoughts or emotions. In General success and setbacks are not opposites.
As an athlete you are always looking for success and improvement. One of the greatest successes you can attain is to overcome setbacks and get back into your most effective state. Setbacks give you another opportunity to succeed and become a better sailor. It is always about yourself. Personally I experienced that the more difficulties I have during major competition or the build up for an event the more I learn about myself and how to deal with setbacks in the future.
How to overcome setbacks
Be kind: Respond kindly to yourself and others. Don’t blame anyone. Focus on what you need to recover. This will help you improving the situation, and not just overreacting.
Learn from this experience: Whatever has happened and whatever the setback is, you can learn from this, you can grow and become better. Choose to learn from this experience. At the end of the day you will have one more tool in your toolbox.
Be patient: Getting back to your old self might not happen overnight, especially in serious injuries. Being patient will be a valuable asset in keeping the right mindset and not losing sight of what is truly important. Listen to your body and try to give what is needed to recover.
The more you see the positive values in setbacks, the more able you will be to bounce back and become a stronger, fitter version of yourself.
Here are a few useful techniques for dealing with common roadblocks during the switchbacks of our athletic lives.
- View each problem or challenge as an opportunity to overcome.
- Only very few athletes experience an entire career without an injury. Accept it, follow the recovery and rehabilitation plan, and set your sights on the future. Especially as a sailor your athletic life is not over at the age of 30 as in other sports, but it will last much longer. You might be able to stay competitive until a very high age. Think about Poul Elvstroem who was competing at the Olympics in the Tornado when he was already in his 70s.
- Don’t be afraid of failure. Some of the most successful athletes in the world spent a lot of time missing their target again and again. If you don’t try out things and take risks, you’ll never win.
- Define success on your own terms. Every season brings a different situation. Your goals from year to year will change. Rather look at yourself and how you have improved than at the result on the result board. You might have improved heaps but there might be others who have even improved more.
- Be a good sport. Accept victory with humility and loss with graciousness. You’re the same person either way.
- Emotional stress in your private life can take a toll on your athletic challenges. Try to integrate your personal and professional lives with your athletic and sailor`s lives.