This article is authored by Doug Scott. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Doug designs workouts for both male and female student athletes competing on a variety of Varsity and Junior Varsity athletic teams, including many county, state, and conference championship teams. Listen to Doug’s podcast on iTunes by clicking here.

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Truth be told, I am not a fan of motivational sayings or T-shirt slogans, however, there are two quotes that I came across that I think ring true in today’s world. First, “Don’t wish for an easy life, work to be a strong per- son” and “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
Anyone who has spent time discussing athletics, academics, or life with me knows I put a premium on strength of character, toughness and “getting the job done” regardless of the circumstances. Let’s face it, we live in uncertain times, there are difficult problems both locally and globally with no “cut and dry” answers. These tough problems require tough people to solve them, so as future leaders you will need to have strength of character and mental toughness in order to face 21st century challenges head on.

What is toughness?
Toughness, as it relates to life’s challenges, is being able to perform at your best when the situation is at its worst. Sure, even the strongest stumble from time to time, but exhibiting “grace under pressure” and remaining calm in the face of chaos is what truly separates the mentally tough for the herd. It’s not always easy to put your emotions aside and remain calm and collected when the world is closing in. Many times it would be easier to give up and say, “I will get ‘em next time.” Situations such as the last 4 minutes of a lacrosse game with your team losing, will you keep fighting and not give up? Or with 10 minutes to go in class with questions left unanswered on a major test, will you stay focused and not panic? Sometimes your “game plan” falls apart and you are left in uncomfortable, stress filled and sometimes foreign situations. Regardless of the situation, stay calm and remember, never quit, because only your best is good enough.

Developing toughness
You are not born with tough- ness, and no one can make you “tougher” by giving it to you. Toughness is a skill that needs to be learned, cultivated, and coached. Being tough is a mindset, its roots are in the idea of “I will make this happen” and “I will make it happen now.” Embracing challenges as opportunities, not obstacles, is essential to developing this mindset. Recognizing that you may get knocked down, you may lose a game or fail a test, but with focus and effort you will rise up again, this time, stronger. Toughness is developed in the weight room, track, turf field, pool or court. It’s developed anyplace where you can say to yourself “one more rep.” So, if you attempt that last “impossible repetition”, always believe in yourself and stick true to your core values, you already know the answer to the question “so you think you’re tough?”

Doug Scott believes that strength training is a “means to and end” and should be a part of every athlete’s lifestyle; and it’s the coaches job to facilitate learning and put the athlete in the best position to get the most out of themselves and ultimately succeed. Mr. Scott has also worked as a personal trainer and has written a number of fitness-related articles and chapters. Coach Scott is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold the title of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can contact him at