Every one of us is getting ready for a hinge moment, event, or person that will make all the difference in our lives. However, we just don’t know when or who. In fact, we may not know the impact until weeks, months, or even years after.

We can’t connect the dots moving forward in life, we can only connect them looking backwards.- Steve Jobs 

The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness.

In order for our Hinge to connect, we need to keep giving ourselves opportunities. Hinge moments require that we stay confident in ourselves to keep connecting with others and striving to get better. However, when we isolate and lose confidence, the Hinge fails to connect. As Gandhi said “you may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result.” You must to be ready, because when your opportunity hits, it’s too late to prepare.

Since each of us will have opportunities, here are three (3) people who took advantage of their Hinge moment! 

1. John Brooks-  

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His goal beat Ghana in the 1st round of the World Cup. He became the 1st ever substitute to ever score in a World Cup Match for the United States. He only entered the game at half-time because another player, Matt Besler, was injured. With only four minutes left in the game, it appeared the game was going to be a draw. John Brooks was even on the bubble for making the USA roster. However, he told his teammates, “ I actually dreamt about making a header on a corner kick in the 80th minute to win the game.”

 

2.  Linda Perry-

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She was the lead singer of 90’s band, 4 Non-blondes, and they had their 15-minutes of fame with the hit, “What’s Going On.” Often as it goes, the success did not last, and a few years later, Linda Perry was sunk….She was completely broke for three weeks, when an unknown artist contacted her and told her how she admired Linda Perry’s earlier work. Linda Perry had just finished writing a song, titled “Get The Party Started.” You guessed it, the unknown artist was Pink and it launched her career.  Linda Perry thereafter has written tons of top songs for artists like Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, & Adam Lambert.

3. Vin Scully-

Vin Scully is the hall-of-fame announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The greatest of all-time has been announcing Dodger games for 65 straight years! He recently called his 19th no-hitter when Clayton Kershaw accomplished it. His Hinge moment occurred when he returned from the Navy and was announcing games for Fordham University.  He sent 150 letters to radio stations all along the east coast and received only 1 reply from CBS Sports Radio. He started working alongside Red Barber and called his 1st game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950.

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Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

Injuries suck!

They are one of the toughest things an athlete will handle. Often, athletes do not deal well with injuries either. The way athletes cope with life issues is through their sport. If they are playing well, then everything is okay. However, once an athlete is injured, their source of coping is removed and issues can become severe.

Most athletes that are injured and can’t play, experience some sort of depression. They have lost the most precious part of their identity, so they will grieve and not know how to deal. They will become angry, sad, and feel isolated. They immediately become a lesser part of the team; heck even their rehab is done away from the team practice.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed.

Timing is everything

Injuries cause stress and when it is an important part of the season, it is way more difficult for an athlete to handle. In 2008, future Hall of Fame running back, LaDainian Tomlinson was injured in the playoffs and couldn’t play. He was criticized for how he handled the situation as a leader, but this is often what happens when athletes become hurt during critical parts of the season. They simply don’t know how to cope.

On the other hand, injuries that occur in the off-season, or pre-season can be dealt with more care. Depending on the prognosis, there is more hope that they can return, which can provide a motivating fuel for rehab.

Sport Psychology is needed

Coaches are focused on the team and personnel they have, so there isn’t much time to devote to an injured athlete. Thus, Athletic Trainers and Sport Psychology coaches are crucial when an athlete is injured. Athletes on the sidelines are more than willing to talk and this is where real support takes place, helping an athlete cope in healthy ways and channel their focus in positive directions.

Return at 100%

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

RGIII of the Washington Redskins made it public that he was going to return for week 1 of the 2013 NFL season. He did, but he was not healthy. I am not certain he was healthy at all last season and he lost confidence and performed poorly.

Athletes almost always return from their injury too soon. In the athletes mind, they feel close to the same as before the injury, however after returning too fast, they soon discover that they are off. They may feel fine for 9 out of 10 plays, but that one play where they can’t cut, accelerate, or move like before causes doubt. Physically, it causes them to muscle guard and protect the injured area.

Doubt, which has never been there before is suddenly present. Doubt causes slight hesitations, over-thinking, or even trying to do too much. As a result of the doubt and less than stellar play, they lose confidence!

It takes a village. Teammates, coaches, and loved one’s all need to support the athlete to return when completely healthy and in game shape.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness