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Arrow Tip #45: Implement a "Bounce Back" Strategy

When coaching athletes to develop mindset skills one of the biggest things I get them to do is implement what I call a "Bounce Back Strategy". This is a routine that allows them to immediately bounce back from a defeat. The interesting thing is this system was something I developed out of necessity for myself, completely unrelated to sports. I'd spent so many years coming up with ways to pick myself up from defeat that I pretty much became an expert in it!

Defeat is just part of sports. Being able to pivot on a dime and get your head and body back into the game can be the difference between winning and losing, success and failure. Not everyone is an athlete playing a game, but we're ALL playing the game of life. What happens when you feel defeated? Do you get stuck there or can you bounce back right away? Just like a player may cost themselves the win because they can't switch gears and reset, so too can we players of life end up on a losing streak.

The game of life is also full of wins and losses. But defeat should be left out on the field. Instead, we continue to carry it around in the mind refusing to let it go and decreasing our chances of succeeding in the future. Having a bounce-back strategy is the best way to ensure you're ready for the next moment. The strategy can consist of whatever helps you reset in a positive way. Everyone is different.

My bounce-back consists of many of the Arrow Tips I've written about, along with a few other tools depending on what state of mind I'm in. Regardless, there are a few things that are ALWAYS part of my reset strategy when I'm feeling defeated, down, or stuck in a negative thinking pattern. I know I need to get my mind on a new train of thought ASAP so I always implement positive "self-talk". I speak to myself as I would a friend, with kindness and support. I also reframe all thoughts of self-doubt. I watch the meaning I give to events and ask new questions that are empowering when warranted. I do whatever it takes to change the destructive mental conversations I may be having with myself. (I have many Arrow Tips on this blog that describe the steps to doing all this.) I employ a short-term memory, leaving the past where it belongs...forgotten. I focus on the present moment and shift my mood from a position of defeat to one of power and confidence. One of the easiest ways to do this is by blasting some music that puts me into a better feeling space. I don't turn it off until I've felt my state of mind/feeling change.

No matter what you decide to do for your "Bounce Back Strategy" the important thing is to have one. The second most important thing is to practice the system during the non-critical moments, so when you really need to call on it, it's an automatic habit rather than an effort. I practice things like positive self-talk, re-assigning better meanings to events, and present moment focus on a daily basis. This ensures the techniques are ingrained in my mind as deep neural pathways. Don't wait until you're an emotional wreck or stuck in a repetitive thinking pattern to practice these techniques. Practice them now so they're easier to depend on when you need to BOUNCE BACK.



  1. Come up with a "Bounce Back Strategy" for yourself. (Previous Arrow Tips are a good source of ideas.)

  2. Practice the tools frequently and during less emotional moments.

  3. When you feel defeated or just need a mental/emotional "reset", implement your new system.



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