noun - The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
In getting the chance to work with so many athletes in the off-season, one trait stands out more than most. Resilience. There is little doubt that working on one’s craft in the solace of a park or a vacant field is challenging. Not all days are going to be great, and not every rep will be flawless. However, the ability to block out mistakes and eliminate unwanted noise while staying focused on your task of improvement is the goal.
Resilience firmly transfers to game settings as things will not always work out how they were drawn up. Adversity will happen. Let downs will occur. But it is how we bounce back from that adversity that is important. How one responds to these moments is what makes the difference between an average player and a great one.
An experience of mine... Friday night, 1996. My first game as a senior quarterback for Bishop Diego High School in Santa Barbara, California. Our opponent, Santa Ynez High School, had won the toss and elected to receive. After driving down the field on their opening drive they were stifled near the goal line. It was our ball. First and 10, on our own 4 yard line.
On the sideline I locked eyes with my coach, the late Norris Fletcher, to receive the play. I clearly remember him saying, “You want to throw it deep?” Now, if you knew Coach Norris this is far from surprising and truth is I was in for whatever he wanted to call. So I responded accordingly, “Let’s do it.” On the long jog to the end-zone to join the huddle my heart raced knowing we were about to roll the dice on the first offensive play of the season from our own 4 yard line.
We broke the huddle and lined up, confident in the call that was made. I barked the cadence and the ball was snapped. After catching it, I dropped back and threw a ‘nine’ route down the short sideline. The ball floated for what seemed like an eternity but it was in fact only 40 yards. The receiver went up for it and the defender quickly followed tipping it into the air. The safety approached and intercepted the pass. He was abruptly tackled. My first pass of my senior season started with an interception…
After starting the game throwing an interception, I quickly forgot about it and moved on from my mistake. I went on and finished with a final stat line of 10 completions on 16 attempts, 262 yards, three touchdowns and that lone interception (Santa Barbara News Press). In short, I bounced back with a 75% completion percentage and more importantly, we got the W to start the season 1-0.