One of the most challenging but rewarding things of coaching is teaching athletes to push through the physical and mental fatigue. At the beginning it is very frustrating but watching them develop this skill and habit is very rewarding.
I feel that it is a habit. It is a habit if you allow yourself to give up or have an excuse. This also makes it easy to “blame” others instead of taking ownership for your own actions. Just like it is a habit if you find a reason to push through or give it 100%, even if you fail. I also get that there are lots of other factors that affect how “full” or “empty” their emotional tanks are – which will affect how much they can or can’t push through.
The most important thing is teaching the athletes to communicate and come up with a game plan for the practice. At the beginning stages before they learn this, you see a lot of “avoiding”, distracting of teammates, lack of focus, etc. You can’t build the right habits without a game plan and it will set the athlete up for mental and physical failure to “reinforce” their belief about the day. This will also reinforce the bad habits when this is allowed to happen consistently.
The second big thing is teaching the athletes to recognize the difference between physical/mental fatigue or not having anything left in the emotional tank. Depending on what is going on, makes a huge difference on how you approach making their practice to make it successful. Both do require a lot more “filling of their tank” and finding the small successes but with the drained emotional tank you need to water down the skills/routines to ensure success and good habits are built.
The reality – is there are so many places in life they will need these skills and habits. From the nights of not sleeping from studying for tests, to those workouts in the gym (or gymnastics now), to having a minor illness, to when they become parents and even just when they are forced to “adult” in the real world. Those are the times we will see what skills and habits our kids have developed for coping with fatigue.