Choosing Resilience in Adversity

In the near future, perhaps sometime next month or early June, this first wave of Covid will be behind us. This will be a relief for everybody.

Will you be depleted and burned out when you re-emerge? Or, will you have a new appreciation for the little things in life, including your relationships with friends and family, and, of course, the game of tennis?

One crucial factor that will help you not only to survive, but even thrive, is resiliency. It’s easy to think that people are either resilient or not. But, in reality, everyday, in any moment, you can choose to BE resilient. And, amazingly, this will even begin to re-wire your brain so you can manage stress more effectively in the future.

In an interview study with 12 Olympic champions, Fletcher and Sarkar (2012) found that athletes who encountered a wide variety of stressors possessed five main psychological protective factors (optimism, motivation, confidence, focus, and perceived social support) that underpin the resilience-stress-performance relationship. In fact, most successful athletes have experienced at least one major crisis in their lives that they’ve had to overcome, which they claim was the differentiator in their career.

It’s important to know that stress resides neither in each of us nor in the environment but in the relationship between the two.

Hence, it appears that resilience is one important characteristic that will help you decrease your experience of stress. In other words, when you perceive stress as temporary, believe that you will ultimately grow from this shutdown and choose to approach new activities and relationships, rather than avoiding them (take walks, exercise, communicate with friends), you will not burn out, but grow instead.

Three Takeaways Highlights:

1. View this time as an opportunity to strengthen your resiliency. If and when you hit a “pot hole” each day and you feel discouraged, frustrated, anxious or bored, use this moment as a pivot point to rewire your brain. Just like on the tennis court, ask yourself a productive question,”What can I do now that will be a positive for me?” Even if your first thought is negative, don’t listen to it and do it anyway. Momentum often can carry the day. The brain is designed to answer questions. Feed it ones that will move the needle in a positive direction.

2. Remind yourself that this situation is temporary. You are here because you have survived many difficult moments in life in the past. If you can get through this without too many scars, maybe even become better for it, you will have won this battle. Remember, “This too shall pass.”

3. Make a list of important people in your life who you would like to connect with during this unprecedented pause. Perhaps you can reach out to one person per day, 3 per week, or whatever you’d like. It’s easy to drift into complacency after awhile and lose the zest as the days can tend to bleed into one another. Don’t let inertia stop you. Take control of what you can control–the secret sauce of strong minds and becoming more resilient.

How you decide to view this experience, choosing to actively engage in your life and remembering that it is, in fact, the most difficult moments where the door opens for your greatest growth of all. One point/day at a time. Enjoy your day!

I hope you’ll check out my new online course that I put together with Craig O’Shannessy, the world’s leading strategy analyst who has worked with Novak Djokovic for the past three years! This is the modern day version of the Inner Game of Tennis in video form. These lessons can apply to the match of your life now as well! Click here: Watch the Video for Getting Tight.


  1. Craig Hillier on April 14, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you Jeff. Wonderful advice on resiliency! I have just purchased your course with Craig O’Shannessy. You guys make a great power duo! I started playing tennis 4 years ago and have fallen in love with the sport. I enjoy learning about the emotional and mental side of tennis to improve my game the most. I was hoping to start playing a more active role in sport psychology and/or sports therapy in the tennis community. Any advice you could give would be appreciated. I currently have my M.Sc. Thanks for your time and your Brain Game course!

  2. Jeff Greenwald on April 17, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Hi Craig, I hope you enjoy the course! Thanks for purchasing it.

    The field of sport psychology has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. There are opportunities with team and in private practice. Writing, speaking and doing good work are avenues to build a career in this field. Sport and performance psychology are also applicable to other disciplines–performing arts, business, etc…

    Take good care!

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