Over the course of your career in esports, you’ll face a great many opponents, some good, some bad, some great. You’ll make friends, develop rivalries, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a mentor or two along the way. Players come, and players go, scenes dissolve, but there is one opponent who will never stop coming, never let up. That opponent is you.
We’ve all heard the saying “I’m my own worst enemy”, an expression that holds true in the lab, the court, the locker room, or even the main stage. We all know it, the doubt, the fear, the complacency. That little voice in your head that says “I’ll never be as good as X”, “I’ve practiced enough, I can take a few days off”, or “I’m not good enough”. These kinds of doubts, hesitations, might-be’s, and other negative images will haunt you, seek to drag you down, force you to quit. They will plague you throughout your whole career, but only if you let them.
So how do you avoid these pitfalls, how do you recover from an emotional defeat, or embarrassing upset? How do you bounce back from the worst blows that life can throw at you?
Enter our good friend, Resilience.
From the American Psychological Association
“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”
If you think you’re not good enough, not capable, or are simply not strong enough, think again. Once more from the APA:
“Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”
In short, champions are made, not born. So bust out the hammers and head to the forge, lets learn how you can make yourself bulletproof.
By now this is a topic you’ve heard us discuss over and over. Hopefully you’re starting to pick up on the why. With structure comes planning, goals, and a clear blueprint to see where things went wrong. More importantly, it’s a hell of a lot easier to stick to a plan, than to just show up and wing it.
2. Curb your Expectations
Rome wasn’t built in a day, Faker didn’t become the master overnight, and the Smash God’s weren’t granted their powers in the dawn of time (well, probably…), you can’t expect to become unstoppable in a few days either.
Instead, focus on keeping those goals in line with reality, trust in the processes we’ve laid out for you, and earn your place in the halls of your scene’s history.
3. Get out of your head
Trust in yourself, that come tournament time you know you did everything you could up till this point, no one can undo the past but all of us can learn from the present and plan for the future. When in doubt, trust in your practice, its all you can fall back on and it will carry you.
If you didn’t practice enough, you’ll know. If you focused on the wrong elements in practice, you’ll know. But if you did everything you could, and you practiced hard, focus on that. The devil we know, is a hell of a lot better than the devil we don’t, and worrying about unknowns or what if’s will send you straight to the loser’s bracket.
4. Little Victories
Toughest on the list is taking stock of the little things. Think of it as blessing in disguise. It’s easy to get swept up in the chaos of tournament life, but gearing your mind to look for the little wins, a lesson learned, a new angle, new approach, respect from better players, all go a long way towards keeping your mind in order.
As people, our minds evolved to linger on negative events, because it helped us prepare for threats in the jungle, yet in our lives there are hundreds if not thousands of positive events that go under our radar each and every day.
In truth, it’s these little tiny details that make up the complete picture, I’ll let an old rhyme say it best:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
5. It’s just a game
A friend and local Smash sensation once said it best, “why would I get mad over losing at a children’s party game?” .
Why indeed. Sometimes it’s far too easy to get caught up in competition, to feel like the weight of the world is on your back, and you can barely breathe. In moments where that happens, especially if you’re in a leadership position, you need to gain a little perspective, remember what it is you’re fighting for.
Remember that at the end of the day, you’re all just playing a game.
Resilience is cultivated like any other skill, it has to be pushed actively, and reflected upon passively in order to grow. Some of you will find it’s like riding a bike, it never really leaves you. Others, well if you don’t use it, you lose it.
This list is just a short primer on how to start building the toughness/resilience/heart you need to become a true competitor and start shining over your competition.
In the follow up to this article, I’ll be discussing the important elements of life balance that reinforce resilience, and mental toughness as a whole. We’ll talk about habits, sleep, exercise, and most important of all outlets outside of gaming.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and as always contact us with questions or stories of your own.
Enjoy the climb and remember to stay zero,