READ all the motivational quotes you want, watch Rocky movies as much as you like, pump your music loud but you will keep hitting that wall unless you believe in yourself.
You need to learn how to beat yourself, to hit your sporting wall harder than it hits you.
Gridiron player Molly Branson put forward the powerful notion in Press Box last week that her sport was about women giving themselves permission to play hard amid a rapidly changing landscape for women’s sport.
In a bid to explore true toughness, really pushing yourself to your limit, Press Box ventured into the gym with Ballarat strongwoman Kay Hodgson.
Kay’s chosen discipline is about towing vehicles (she pulled a five-tonne van for a bit of fun last weekend), tossing kegs filled with liquid, moving concrete stones – “odd awkward objects, moving them from A to B in the shortest possible time”, Kay says.
Muscle strength is slowly built but ultimately goals are achieved with mental strength. This goes for anyone who enters Kay’s gym whether it be in sparring, training for a marathon, or lifting giant truck tyres.
And this translates across sporting fields, recreational and grassroots to elites.
Kay is 48 and preparing for her first national Australian Strongman Alliance nationals. She took up Muay Thai fighting aged 41 and retired two years ago, keeping up her fitness and strength in cross-fit. Then Kay stumbled on a strongman coaching course.
Standing almost 150 centimetres tall, Kay is competing against younger, taller strongwomen, predominantly aged in their 20s. But she also used to fight younger, taller athletes in the ring.
“I want women to think they can fight, they can lift big weights, not I can’t do that because I’m a woman,” Kay said.
“Any preparation is 80 per cent believing in yourself, believing you can do it and having fun with it as well.”
A year ago Kaye would never have thought she could lift the 32-kilogram kettlebell she has been swinging about lately. She sets small goals in her training and for those she trains and it adds up.
There are times Kaye will still dismiss her chances with an object at first glance, then re-focus and logically decide she could try. Unsure how she will measure up at nationals in Queensland, Kay is making the journey because this could be her only nationals. Her body has a limited time in the sport with age.
Kaye wants to embrace the moment rather than the blows she might take.
Self-doubt can creep into even the most elite games.
North Melbourne footballer Lindsay Thomas would spend time electrifying North Ballarat Roosters’ forward lines to overcome his AFL goal-kicking yips.
Australian Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker overcame his mental hurdle by training in a secret, old indoor railway workshop in Perth as he aimed to qualify for the London Games.
Self-belief sometimes needs a reminder of what can be possible.
Kay only aims to beat herself and what she can do, just like her Muay Thai coach has instilled in her. That is how to measure true strength and break down barriers.
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