Virginia’s Bob Rotella explains mental toughness athletes have through pandemic

Virginia’s Bob Rotella explains mental toughness athletes have through pandemic
Bob Rotella talks about athletes mental game during the pandemic. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As the public adjusts to the repercussions of the pandemic, so are athletes. One of the world’s premiere sports psychologists, Bob Rotella at the University of Virginia, says athletes starving to compete are still finding positives through it all.

“Take a look at the basketball team. They didn’t get to defend their national championship, but they get to be the nation champion for another year," Rotella said.

The 20 year veteran director of sports psychology at UVA says willingness to compete isn’t an issue.

“I’ll tell you what you get a basketball team going five on five and practice they’re competing and they’re going to practice as if there were one million people watching,” Rotella said.

The author of six books says this pandemic will show which athletes are staying on their grind and which ones aren’t.

“You find out quickly do you have the self-discipline and inner commitment and dedication to greatness to go do it on your own and suddenly might not have your strength coach pushing you every day or have a bunch of guys in the weight room motivating you," Rotella said.

However, athletes must be ready at any given time, because no one knows when sports will be back.

“Some guys are probably saying well no sense of doing anything," Rotella said. "You keep telling players 'look, if you’re going to make a mistake, make the mistake of being prepared’ and if all of the sudden, they’re saying we’re starting next week, you’re ready to go. You can’t make the mistake of not being ready and then having them tell you, we’re starting up next week.”

One thing Rotella is telling his players during this uncertain time is to stay in shape mentally.

“They’re doing a lot of visualization at night and imagery,” Rotella said. “A lot of just lying in bed or sitting in a chair closing their eyes and mentally going over competition and being ready for competition.”

Rotella says this is a new experience for everyone and the main concern is that everyone is staying healthy.

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