Over the years, I’ve written numerous articles related to hand-eye coordination training. As stated before, such work is beneficial to athletes from all sports. More recently, I’ve also discussed how coordination training can be useful on lighter days to help avoid physical burnout. There’s still another benefit that I haven’t focused much attention on however. Challenging your coordination with a new skill is useful in preparing you to deal with the inevitable frustration that accompanies the learning process.
Whenever I demonstrate coordination drills, I’m typically greeted with humorous comments from viewers who joke about what would happen if they tried the drill. What everyone needs to realize though is that we’ve all looked foolish at times when attempting a new skill. For instance, I’ve not only dropped plenty of balls while juggling, but I’ve also dropped plenty of f-bombs in frustration. It comes with the territory. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. And no one is immune to frustration.
In all my years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an athlete who hasn’t been frustrated at some point in their career. And I’m not just talking about frustration while training. I’m talking specifically about becoming frustrated during high level events. Even the greats will occasionally deal with frustration (ex. when facing an unconventional opponent).
Unfortunately, frustration can be more damaging than even the trickiest opponent. Speaking as a boxing coach, I’ve seen fighters with world class talent who’ve been mentally broken during a fight all because of frustration. They simply didn’t know how to deal with it. Many become reckless and angered which typically results in careless mistakes. The result of such haphazardness can be devastating.
Thus, knowing that we’re all susceptible to frustration, it’s useful to introduce frustration into your training. Coordination drills are useful in this regard as it’s a controlled struggle. It only lasts as long as the drill. You can stop at any time. You can also take a break and try again later.
As for benefits, athletes who are forced to deal with frustration in training become better equipped to deal with frustration when competing. You eventually learn to handle frustration with less emotion. You begin to recognize that anger does not help. It often makes things worse. In other words, you learn to maintain control in the face of frustration.
In summary, I highly recommend learning some new skills or drills that you won’t master overnight. Find something that will be difficult for you, and then calmly deal with the inevitable frustration that accompanies the learning curve. In doing so, you’ll become better equipped to deal with frustration in life as well as sport.
That doesn’t mean you still won’t drop the occasional f-bomb. I’m guilty as charged. It doesn’t happen as often though, and it takes much more for me to reach that point. So, the potential for an emotional response never disappears entirely, but it becomes less likely, and not as extreme. And that alone can be a game changer many athletes.
“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.” – Bo Bennett