Resilience in female athletes

Resilience And Female Athletic Success

Elite Women’s Sports has never been more attractive. One of the reasons is that these women are not superheroes. Like most other females they have to cope with failure. As a consequence these athletes need to be resilient and thus can inspire other women to do the same. And resilience has proven to be a survival skill especially for women whose mental health was hit hard during the pandemic. So let`s learn more about resilient athletes and their success.

What is Psychological Resilience?

Resilience, also referred to as “grit” is the ability to continue to grow and perform in the face of hardship and triumph despite experiencing adversity. 

To gain a deeper understanding of resilience it is helpful to look at a Finish study. The researchers looked at the relationship of female athlete burnout, resilience and sport attrition. It revealed that women with higher burnout rates for example due to over-training are less resilient and therefore more likely to quit their sports career. 

Why do female athletes have higher burnout rates?

According to an Iranian study “gender comparisons showed that female athletes experience higher levels of reduced sense of accomplishment, physical/emotional exhaustion, and devaluation than their male counterparts. This evidence suggests that female athletes are more susceptible to burnout than male athletes. Two factors may contribute to these gender differences.

First, female athletes may be less capable of coping with physical and mental stresses. It must be noted that physical and mental  stresses are considered as the main factors in burnout. 

Second, the fact that female athletes had been less successful in international competitions may have led to the feelings of failure, inefficacy, and reduced accomplishment. The disparity between expectations and outcomes is a major factor in the development of burnout.” 

Resilient Athletes Cope Better With Stress

Japanese researchers found that highly resilient individuals tend to employ problem focused coping skills such as seeking information and/ or assistance with handling a stressful situation. A good example is the ability to remove the source of the stress and/or removing oneself from the stressful situation. 

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They additionally note that resilient athletes are less likely to manage stressful situations with emotion-focused coping behaviors; these might include venting of emotions and disengagement. 

How to Become a Resilient Female Athlete

Female athletes can raise resilience by focusing on improving their stress coping mechanisms.  

Gloria B. Solomon, PhD, CMPC explains how trainers can do this in her article for the Association for Applied Sports Psychology. She encourages female athletes to accept failure as a natural part of learning. One common strategy to improve resilience is the ARSE strategy.

A = Acknowledge the error and the frustration it has caused

R = Review the play and determine how and why the error occurred

S = Strategize a plan to make the necessary corrections for the future

E = Execute and prepare for the next play

In addition, women tend to judge themselves harder than men. They find it difficult to practice self-forgiveness and move on. This is the reason why female athletes should mainly work with women psychologists. 

Building Resilience Through Female Sports Role Models

Another way to build resilience is to use the power and support of role models. Former Tennis Number 1 Angelique Kerber got support from the legend Steffi Graf and her husband Andree Agassi. 

Female athletes could also study success habits of women like Manon Rhéaume (the first woman to play in the NHL) who has proven that success depends on perseverance ( which describes the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition),

“If you persevere long enough, if you do the right things long enough, the right things will happen.” Manon Rheaume

The Future Will Belong to Resilient Female Athletes

Women’s sports are on the rise. Thus it is no surprise that “Nike’s 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team home jerseys became the No. 1 selling soccer jersey ever, men’s or women’s.” We can also find female sports like  Women’s Super League (WSL) and North America’s premier women’s basketball league on the World’s 50 Most Marketable Properties list. 

A Word From Healthy Lifestyle Florida

As females we should all value the skill of resilience as an essential part of growth and success. The reason is that so far most of us regard failure as something extremely negative. What is worse is the fact that we find it hard to forgive ourselves the mistakes that are part of natural learning. No matter if we are elite athletes, recreational or business athletes – let`s promote resilience and female role models. 

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