The Benefits of Pain and the Power of Struggle
Ty Nichols – Head Basketball Coach
This month the Trailblazer basketball program will begin it’s pre-season training regiment in order to prepare for the grueling 2016-2017 schedule. This year we will once again face perennial national powerhouse programs under a national spotlight. Preparation for these opportunities isn’t easy. It requires commitment, discipline, and most importantly the mental capability to embrace pain and love struggle.
As in any worthwhile endeavor, the opportunity to succeed comes with a price. To do one’s best, a certain sense of detachment must encompass the ethos of the athlete when the pain becomes great and the struggle becomes unbearable. There is an anaesthetizing of the senses and a silencing of the desire for sympathy that occurs in most athletes and teams who are able to rise above the rest of the field.
Imagine for a second a world in which pain and struggle were not key ingredients for growth. From this vantage point weights would be non-existent in the weight room, the stop watch wouldn’t keep time, the scoreboard wouldn’t turn on and we would only keep track of games played, not wins and losses. We would find ourselves in a world numb to achievement.
An athlete knows he is getting stronger when he experiences pain in the weight room. When he can barely move his arms and his chest feels like it’s on fire after engaging in a healthy lifting session, the benefits of pain and the power of struggle begin to materialize in his consciousness. When the lactic acid builds up in his legs on the last lap of a timed race he must mentally set his mind to ignore the stabbing pain in order to finish and become faster. Pushing aside the fact that his lungs are on fire and he’s grasping for air, he drives through the final lap. Why? He is learning that there is a benefit to experiencing pain and a reward to embracing the struggle. There is a profound truth in the proverb first coined by Benjamin Franklin 300 years ago, “There are no gains without pains.”
Pain and Struggle is not the enemy. In fact, they are allies on the road to greatness. Without them, growth and achievement is impossible. Pain and struggle are clear signals, road signs if you will, that one is on the right path and his course is true. A free human being who desires to be the best he or she can possibly be in any given context (athletic or otherwise) embraces not how things currently are, but what they “ought to be.” The pain and struggle willingly afflicted upon the body and mind turn out to be the best medicine one can administer to oneself.
Experiencing the benefits of pain and the power of struggle are only given as rewards to those who are capable of conjuring the mental toughness necessary to live in and embrace this paradigm: Pain is my ally, struggle is my friend. These companions are not “tolerated,” they are desired, even sought after. Why? Because Pain and Struggle are the two entities that can deliver “what ought to be.”