How to Develop Resilience in Young People

Have you ever wanted to know how to develop resilience in young people? 

Well, this article will endeavour to explain what it is and how it can be achieved.

I recently wrote an article on mental toughness and for years I believed this was the same thing as resilience and something I had acquired through hardship and adversity and not something that could be taught. 

How wrong I was. They are two completely different things, but it was the resiliency I developed through those struggles, setbacks and challenging experiences that made me the person I am today. 

Mental toughness was something I had personally developed whilst playing football and other sports although, not exclusively.

What is Resilience?

a lonely tree growing out of a rock cliff overlooking the ocean signifying resilience

Bouncebackability is a word that is often used to describe resilience, which means, having the capacity to recover quickly from a setback.

As good a term as this is, resilience is more complex than that. it is crucial to understand it is not a fixed trait as it’s influenced by both processes and behaviours. Resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that anyone can learn and develop. 

Adversity and hardship are not the only things that can have an impact on a person’s resilience, daily stressors can too.

Therefore, resilience is not a personality trait that only some people have and is not a psychological endpoint to be reached, nor is it a fixed outcome.

The Benefits of being Resilient

Footballers, sports stars or even normal everyday people who are resilient, do not dwell on their failures, they accept them, analyse them, learn from them and then move forward.

After doing some research into resilience, I have found that there are three key elements that are essential to being a resilient person: Challenge, Commitment and Control

wooden block tiles spelling the quote Fall seven times stand up eight
  1. Resilient people see a problem as a challenge and not an issue that will stop them. They are positive people who look for opportunities to grow after learning from their mistakes or failures.
  2. People who are resilient are fully committed to the goals in their lives. They have a strong compelling reason for getting out of bed every morning.
  3. Control the controllable is the mantra of a resilient person because they don’t spend time and energy focusing on situations they have no control over. All their efforts go into things they can have an impact on.

Along with the three key elements, there are several other attributes that are also common in resilient people.

  • They have a positive outlook on life and the future and see the effects of bad events as temporary rather than permanent.
  • Resilient people have the desire to achieve their set goals or targets.
  • People with resilience are compassionate and empathetic and don’t waste time worrying about what people think of them.
  • Resilient people do not let bad events or any form of setback affect other unrelated areas of their lives.

Building Resilience in your Players

Children playing football and one scoring a goal

When looking to develop or even build resilience in your young players, you have to understand that like Mental Toughness training it is not a short-term exercise and it will not happen overnight. 

Building resilience requires patience which has to be developed over the long term and become a continuous part of training. You also have to be aware that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach and that some players will get it earlier than others if they get it at all.

However, there is no proven set of chronological steps for learning resilience or becoming more resilient, but I believe if you can get your players to fully commit then they can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. 

  1. Practice thought awareness. Don’t let negative thoughts interfere with your efforts. Try, putting into action some positive thinking techniques. This means listening to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong. Have your own personalised statement or mantra to help correct these thoughts in your mind.
  2. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Every mistake and every failure has the power to teach you something new and important if you are willing to reflect and look deep into it, so try and find the lesson in every situation and then action it.
  3. Maintain perspective. Try to avoid blowing events or setbacks out of proportion. Although a situation may seem distressing at the time, it may not make that much of an impact over the long term.
  4. Choose your response. Your reaction is always up to you. Everybody has bad days where it seems everything has gone wrong. But we have a choice in how we respond: We can choose to react with negativity, or we can choose to remain calm and take control to find a solution.
  5. Build your self-confidence. When you develop confidence and a strong sense of self-belief, you have the strength to keep moving forward, and to take the risks you need to get ahead despite the setbacks.
  6. Be flexible. Not many things will go as they are supposed to so, understand that things change and that the best-laid plans may, sometimes, need to be modified or binned.


One of the most significant reasons for having a resilient mindset is how we view adversity and stress, and the effect it can have on us and our ability to succeed.

I feel that it is important for us all to understand that at some stage in our lives, we will all fall down and fail and mistakes will happen. In my humble opinion, I believe this is one of the main reasons many people do not follow their dreams, the fear of failure.

Being resilient means that when we do fall down, make mistakes or indeed fail, we have the strength to learn the lessons we need to learn, we bounce back and we can move on to bigger and better things.

We should all have the courage to go after our dreams and live the life we’ve always imagined, despite the very real risk that we will fail. 

Making a way out of no way quote on a balck background

If you enjoyed this article and have any questions or comments or just wish to share your thoughts.

Please leave them in the comments box and I will respond once I get the chance.

2 thoughts on “How to Develop Resilience in Young People”

  1. Another very interesting article Chris, a great read as always. The psychological side of sport is massive and should never be underestimated. I read a great book by Dr Carol Dweck called ‘Mindset’ who talks about having a growth mindset rather than a fixed (self limiting) one. I hope you are keeping well and thanks for being such a great coach mentor, Cheers, Dean

    • Thanks, Dean for your comments
      I completely agree about the psychological side of the game which I’ve become more interested in since I started coaching.
      The book by Carol Dweck is very good I’ve read it along with others, which is important and you can pick up many ideas to implement into your coaching.

      Thanks again


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