Bouncing Back: A Trainable Skill
It’s college basketball playoff season in the US – otherwise known as March Madness, where the country’s top teams in men’s and women’s hoops duke it out for the champions’ titles. As such, it was irresistible to not make reference to “the way the ball bounces” in some clever way this week as the excitement builds and the brackets narrow.
The March Madness tournament is famous (perhaps notorious) for shocking upsets. Teams ranked far lower than their opponents can appear out of near obscurity to throttle a top-ranked team or even knock a well-known basketball dynasty out of the running in the first round.
Another thrilling element of NCAA basketball is the possibility for jaw-dropping comebacks. Squads suffering double-digit deficits can come roaring back to win the game in the final minutes. It’s one of those sports where it’s truly not over until it’s over.
Both of these sporting scenarios bring to mind the essential quality of resilience. Teams suddenly knocked off their pedestals must pull themselves together, graciously accept the loss, and prepare to rally in the next season. Teams down by 15 at the half must refocus, re-energize, and not allow negative thinking to drag them down through the remainder of the game. In both cases, it’s all about “bouncebackability.”
What’s bouncebackability? And can you train for it?
Bouncebackability is a term coined in 2004 by ex-soccer player (footballer for our non-US friends), Iain Dowie, to describe how the Crystal Palace team he managed overcame a poor start to the season – battling relegation – to win promotion at the season finale.
It’s as simple a coinage as you could hope for: the ability to bounce back and recover from less-than-positive circumstances.
Outside of the context of sports, clearly we all suffer setbacks in our careers and our lives. The pandemic alone has shown us that. And as any self-help book, life coach, or even kitchen wall-hanging will tell you: “It’s not about what happens; it’s about how you react to it.”
By harnessing bouncebackability, you can ensure that whatever difficulties you face, however complicated your circumstances, and however low things get, you’ll have the wherewithal and confidence to return to something more positive.
But how? By training, of course!
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Much of bouncebackability is pure mindset. It requires re-harnessing one’s mental state out of disappointment, disturbance, and even despair into a place of strength, optimism, and hopefulness.
It may not be natural at first for many of us to do this. Let’s face it; it’s hard to get back in the game when the scoreboard is screaming defeat. But it is entirely possible to improve one’s capabilities in this area and slowly but surely over time retrain the brain to bounce back with greater speed and consistency.
Give it a shot yourself with courses such as:
Once you’ve sufficiently practiced the psychological aspects, you can move on to game-time skills like:
Remember that bouncebackability isn’t just some innate trait that most people have. It’s a learned practice for the majority of those who get good at it – a combination of mindset and applied skills that can be achieved with the right intention and information.