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When the Going Gets Tough

AFL Rd 16 - North Melbourne v HawthornI was introduced to the concept of Toughness Training when I was studying music, specifically performance, in college.  One of my professors was a huge sports fan and despite his admittedly nerdy love of opera, he would often compare training for sport to training for music.  This is where I had my first real understanding of the implications of perfecting muscle memory.

In opera and classical performance, the slightest deviation from the intended shape, intensity, and emotion of a given syllable or note would derail the entire piece and in turn, the performer.  As one can imagine, this tedious attention to detail was accompanied by inevitable failures.  As explained by my professor via sports psychology, these failures were not unlike the setbacks seen by even the most adept athletes.  Coming from a competitive sports background I could appreciate the valid parallels between on stage performance and on field performance.

The question then becomes "How do we equip competitors with the mental tools to succeed?"

In analyzing the talents, skills, and abilities of some of the top athletes there is ubiquitous factor that separates the good from the great.  How and why do the best athletes maintain their mental toughness even after making mistakes?  We can physically practice to create the best movement patters, athletic defaults, and agile bodies, but the beauty of sport is that the opposition presents variables to test those limitations.  What are we left with when perfect movement fails us?


In this article we'll discuss the components of mental toughness as well as how to create and maintain it's power while under the stress of competition.

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A strength and conditioning coach since 2009, Cali has worked with numerous athletes spanning from rugby players to cross country skiers.Almost immediately after finding CrossFit in 2010, she was introduced to a program that better suited her athletic goals.With her existing background in powerlifting and football, she became a natural devotee to CFFB/PowerAthlete and testament to it's effectiveness.In 2012, she left D.C. and headed for the state named after her to be a part of the CrossFit Football Seminar Staff and a Jedi of Power Athlete HQ. Cali currently resides in Seattle where she works full time in law enforcement.

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9 Responses to When the Going Gets Tough

  1. That was the best article so far.

  2. This also reminds me of the old saying “be comfortable with the uncomfortable”. Great article Cali. I think the mental aspect of training/sport is often missed or not as thought about as much as the physical.

  3. Another excellent article Cali! This can also be applied to the ‘sport’ of business.

  4. Cali: excellent. Thanks.

  5. What did you study performance in @cali ?
    I studied performance on classical guitar… But don’t play anymore
    Chose rugby instead… Too many broken fingers

  6. Would these suggestions work while picking up chicks at a bar? How about at a Whole Foods?

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