seconds to build Mental Toughness

30 Seconds to Build Mental Toughness

Playing baseball in high school, all I wanted for Christmas was to go to a baseball camp in Sarasota Florida. As a pitcher, we learned these strengthening exercises that are now the norm.

The Major League instructor told us all that when we returned home, we wouldn’t do these exercises.

I balked at the notion, bought the 5 lb weights and performed these rotational movements. He was correct however, this lasted just a few weeks…

Mental Toughness is often difficult to evaluate because it involves our response to difficult and/or stressful situations. It means doing those things that we simply don’t want to do, getting out of our comfort zone, and taking care of the little things that it takes to be a champion.

Most of you will dismiss this mental strength exercise, won’t see any value, and scoff at the notion that 30 seconds to build mental toughness. Here it is:

At the end of your shower, turn the water on cold for 30 seconds to build mental toughness

It’s like doing the ice-bucket challenge, but in your shower and for longer, and no-one will film it.

We must not fear a cold shower for 30 seconds to build mental toughness.

If you do a tough mudder, it’ll be much worse. The 30-seconds is no different than pushing yourself in a race or workout or having a pressure situation in a game. You have to push through it and focus. More importantly, you must recognize the type of thoughts that arise and how to control these thoughts.

What’s amazing though is the fear and apprehension to the build up. Trust me, you will not die! Yes, it will be uncomfortable, most likely take your breath away, and involve some physical reactions to the cold water.

The cold water causes you to narrow your focus and it’ll be near impossible to distract yourself from the sensation. You’ll notice immediately what your thoughts attend to and you’ll instantly develop a strategy to build mental toughness. 

You can count to thirty, sing yourself, spin around, or tell yourself motivating statements.

Either way, you’ll find very quickly what type of thoughts enter your mind and what you do with them. At the end, bask in the thought that you just did what most aren’t willing to do.

Carry that motivation into your day.

Of course, you can refuse this 30-second test, no-one will know… except for you.

“Do something everyday for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.”-William James

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books on Mental Toughness 

multi-sport athlete

the multi-sport athlete

 4 Reasons to Save The Endangered Multi-Sport Athlete

The Bison once roamed North America and met the needs of an entire population of indigenous people. However, The bison merely became a creature for it’s hide and almost became extinct.

Once as many as 60 million bison roamed and was limited down to only 300 total in 1900. Thankfully, the numbers have returned to over 400,000.

The multi-sport athlete is becoming extinct. We need to save the endangered athlete.

It was once revered for the many benefits multiple sports provided; fun, teamwork, creativity, self-governing, motivation, fitness, and confidence. However, lost somewhere between adolescence and puberty is the specialist, an athlete whose sole purpose is to try and excel at one sport.


Seek, Kill, & Destroy.

The difference however between the bison and the multiple-sport athlete is that humans could never domesticate the American Buffalo. It was just too powerful.

However, we have been able to contain the multi-sport athlete. The specialist and his or parents live under the guise that if you play different sports; then “you’ll fall behind” or “you’ll get hurt.”  Hence, youth sport now littered with young kids only playing one sports year round.

That is why we need to save the endangered athlete.

The latter “you’ll get hurt” is a major misnomer that has been shown to have the opposite effect. Athletes that specialize have a greater rate of injury compared to non-specialized athletes.

“You’ll get left out” is the true bison in the room.

Here are 4 reasons to have a multi-sport athlete…

1) The sports skills transfer!

87% of the draft picks in the 2015 NFL draft were multi-sport athletes. This isn’t a one-year anomaly either. The average hovers around 70%.

All athletic movements transfer! Quickness, running, jumping, agility, throwing, etc. all transfer. For instance, jumping for a basketball is similar and builds the same muscles need to push off the blocks in swimming and have a good kick.

2) The athlete that plays different sports have a higher sports I.Q.

They develop a feel for any game that they are playing. They are more creative and less mechanical in their approach.

For instance, there are 10-year olds who look like demi-gods in the batting cage but have no idea how to run the bases. A recent phenomenon in volleyball has occurred in which some players in college have never served a ball in competition, ever.

3) Burnout becomes less frequent in multi-sport athletes.

How long do you think going to 6 showcase events and traveling each weekend in the summer to compete remains fun? We would NEVER ask professional athletes to do what U-10 athletes do (i.e., play 3 doubleheaders in a weekend). 

Trust the process, once every single tournament becomes a must do, the fewer tournaments actually are. Maintain the passion and fun by allowing breaks and time-off.

4) Multi-sport athletes learn to compete.

Each sport is different and requires different levels of focus and resiliency.

So, in order to become mentally tough, they need to be in different sports situations that test their resilience and ability to come back. If they learn to compete early on, that skill will transfer into other areas as well. We can compete in anything…

  • Marcelo Chierighini was SEC swimmer of the year at Auburn, a national champion and Olympian; he didn’t start swimming until age 16.
  • Maverik McNealy, a golfer at Stanford University, was the top-ranked amateur golfer in the United States, played hockey and soccer as well as golf into his senior year at high-school. The balance, stability, and core strength required in hockey transferred to golf.
  • Future Hall of Famer, Steve Nash, played soccer, rugby, and basketball in high school.

Lastly, a single sports specialist isn’t the worst culprit.

It’s a multi-single sports specialist! The new wave of overlapping specialized sports, where one sport, one team, and leagues overlap one another. Where is the time to play unorganized games? If we can follow these four strategies, then we can save the endangered athlete.

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 books on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

This 3 minute video explains the one thing that we can never do when it comes to our mental toughness…

This skill is the basis of all other psychological skills. 

Click on Picture to watch…

basis of all mental toughness


Rob Bell revised slide3Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His book is titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness. Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact

Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness .