Tuesday, 18 November 2014

An introduction to Resilience

A few weeks ago I took part in a BASES Webinar on Developing Resilience.  The session, delivered by Mustafa Serkar from the University of Gloucestershire and Paul Morgan (Bucks New University) was very informative.  Resilience is a very topical area at the moment, and is relievant not just to sport, but to business and other areas of life.  I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the main points from the session.  The full webinar can be downloaded here, but  you'll need to register for a Human Kinetics account first.

What is resilience?

  • Resilience training programmes may help prevent against mental illness while at the same time boosting achievement levels and productivity.
  • Resilience should be seen as a form of 'ordinary magic' that we all possess, rather than some special skill that only the gifted have.
  • Resilience is a progressive phenomenon that involves sustained long-term betterment, rather than some sort of quick fix that can be applied to a problem or situation.
  • Resilient individuals or teams are those who are able to respond positively to change.
  • Resilience is not the same as bouncing back from a setback.  It is not a fixed trait, and can be trained.
  • Most importantly, resilience is not the absence or suppression of emotions.  Embracing emotions, both positive and negative, is an important part of building resilience.  We have mentioned before about the importance of embracing emotions, rather than suppressing them, in the prevention of mental illness in athletes, and this seems to be a recurring theme.

Building Resilience

Failure and setbacks are both important in building resilience.  Individuals who are proactive and seek change and improvement, build resilience.  Maintaining confidence (in self and support network) is an important component of resilience.  You develop better resilience from failure that from playing it safe.  Many successful individuals have reported that adversity-related incidents were crucial in their development as top athletes.

During times of change, individuals and teams should stay focused on the bigger picture.  Discussing what is learned from setbacks will help build resilience.

We can choose to see pressure as either a challenge or as a threat.  Those who see it as a challenge will cope better.  Therefore, developing resilience will involve the individual or the team changing their mindset so that they see pressure as a challenge and an opportunity for growth, learning and development.

Groups should be encouraged to openly discuss resilience and what they learn from pressure situations and adversity.  Players should be given ownership and encouraged to be involved in developing solutions to overcome adversity. Falling back on plan B and plan C should become second nature. Individuals should be encouraged to seek challenge.

Using praise following an adverse situation can also be useful.

Key Points

  • Resilience is a positive response to change.
  • We shouldn't be afraid seek challenges.  Don't always play it safe.
  • Learn to view pressure as a challenge rather than a threat.
  • Become involved in developing your own solutions to overcome adversity

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