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Finding Strength Through Weakness: “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” (Part 1)

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Ever heard the phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Nietzsche and Kelly Clarkson were on to something. Finding strength through weakness in athletics means using your weaknesses and challenges as motivation and opportunities for growth rather than letting them hold you back. By identifying areas where you struggle, you can focus on improving those skills or physical abilities through deliberate training. Overcoming obstacles can build resilience and mental toughness, improving performance and success.


In sports, "strength" refers to a player's physical, mental, and technical abilities that give them an advantage over their competition. This may include speed, power, endurance, accuracy, tactical knowledge, and/or the ability to perform under pressure.


On the other hand, "weakness" in sports refers to areas where an athlete may struggle or fall short. This might include a lack of physical ability in certain aspects of the game, less knowledge of mechanics or footwork, or a tendency to become anxious or overwhelmed in high-pressure situations. Identifying and addressing weaknesses can lead to overall improvement and a more competitive edge in sports.


2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me." This verse speaks to Paul's acknowledgment that God's grace is enough to carry him through his weakness. The concept of relying on God's strength to overcome human frailty can be related to sports, as athletes can also draw strength from a higher power, whether God or their own spiritual beliefs.


In sports, athletes may face intense physical or mental weakness, whether due to injury, fatigue, or doubt. However, by leaning on their faith or spiritual beliefs, they can find the strength to persevere and overcome adversity. This understanding that a higher power is at work can bring comfort and confidence to athletes in their pursuit of excellence, allowing them to focus on giving their best effort rather than worrying about the outcome.


The synergy between coaches and teammates is paramount in supporting athletes to achieve their potential. Coaches offer technical expertise, life skills, and guidance. Teammates provide emotional support, a sense of camaraderie, and motivation. Together, these support systems work to ensure that athletes have the necessary tools and resources to succeed.


When athletes have a strong “locker room support system,” they can push past obstacles and reach new heights. Coaches provide constructive feedback that boosts confidence, while teammates offer the motivation and drive to persevere through challenging times. Moreover, coaches and teammates are athletes' accountability partners (we call them accountability buddies), challenging each other to improve and fulfill commitments. Without proper support, athletes can feel isolated and lack motivation, leading to poor performance, lower confidence, and detachment from the team.


Instead of leaving you with a typical article conclusion, I want you to talk about the following 2 questions with your teams:


  1. How can we cultivate a supportive team environment that empowers athletes to reach their full potential?

  2. How can athletes leverage their weaknesses as opportunities for growth and strength to succeed?


I’d love to hear feedback from your conversations. Please email me at amcdonough@centenary.edu or coachedbychrist@gmail.com



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