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Developing a Winning Mentality

Soon we will be beginning another new year. It is time to make a new year’s resolution or two and these are usually things like start going to the gym or drink less alcohol. Gyms will be packed and health supplements will fly off the shelves. However, this will only last a few weeks. As we start to lose enthusiasm and drive, we eventually slip back into our old habits. This is a recurring cycle and will continue until we change our mindset.

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How about making a New Year’s resolution that’s different this time to break this cycle of self-defeat?

Developing a winning mind-set

When you analyse successful people, not just in rugby, you will see that they are not always the most talented or gifted and they rarely have the best start in life, having many obstacles to overcome. This goes against the belief that many of us hold, namely that superstars in any field are the most talented. Instead what we find is that their talent lies in the psychological rather than physical. Sport, like life, is rarely a straight path to success, there are many difficult issues to navigate and physical gifts rarely help us in passing these moments. Instead what is needed is a bullet-proof mind-set.

We will all have been told the importance of being ‘mentally tough’, ie the ability to continue despite any difficulties thrown at us. It’s a great theory and many people repeatedly tell themselves to ‘just keep going’. However, sometimes this approach is not enough. In a high-pressure game, a person can fall apart, get terrible reviews, tons of criticism and then left on the bench for weeks!

Mental toughness alone is too static to deal with this kind of setback, everyone has a point where the ‘toughness’ can be broken; something is needed that’s more fluid and adaptable. Psychology can provide the answers.

The opposite of fragile is not actually being tough or resilient, it’s being anti-fragile. Rather than just standing firm against the knocks, being anti-fragile involves learning from those knocks too. You need to use those knocks to better yourself. Psychologically this simple switch can have a powerful effect on a player’s approach. Now they will not experience anger and frustration at a situation but use it to their advantage.

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Here are some ways to implement this mindset so the thought process will become natural:

Accept that life is not always fair – As much as we want to believe that good things happen to good people is not the way the world works. Things go wrong from time to time, do not waste energy or lament this time. Accept things and move on.

Look for opportunities – In any situation, no matter how negative it seems, there is always a chance. Searching is called reframing and is a very useful psychological technique that you should try to get in the habit of using. If you get dropped you can focus on the negative and angry or you can see it as an opportunity to get more training. For a new Rugby Drill, visit a site like

Which do you think is more useful for you? Look for the positive in every situation, even if it’s just “I will learn from this’.

Use the ‘antifragility’ as the guiding force – If a difficult situation makes us stronger, then certainly we need to expose ourselves to harder situations more often. Realizing this could be a gamechanger.



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