What To Do When You’re Losing

posted on: September 16, 2020
author: Brian Lomax

At some point in your athletic career, you are going to find yourself in a losing situation in a game or match. That moment is a test of your mental toughness. How will you handle it? What can you do to turn the situation around?

For some players, losing results in a loss of motivation and the drive to win. Perhaps this is because those players are being too judgmental and critical toward themselves. They are unable to focus on the aspects of performance that will help them get back in the contest. In a way, they are acting as if they have already lost when in reality, they are still in it. If you find yourself in this position, your mission is to change your energy to be more positive, optimistic, intense, and confident. There is no place for a critical or judgmental voice in this process.

Change Your Energy, Change Your Performance

Here are some suggestions for changing the dynamics of your personal energy so that you can compete better:

  • Motivational self-talk (your biggest fan voice)
    • This can be aloud
    • Design a script that can be repeated after each point
    • Pro tip: Does not need to be yelled or screamed (that’s generally a waste of energy)
    • Make this self-talk about the next point, not the last one
    • Examples
      • Let’s go
      • Vamos
      • You got this
      • Come on
  • Instructional self-talk (your coaching voice)
    • Keep it simple
      • Breathe
      • Next point
    • Design a script that can be repeated after each point
  • Bounce up and down before each point
    • More energy will lead to more intensity
    • Will loosen muscles
    • Will activate focus
  • Hustle for every ball during points
  • Look to make the opponent work harder
  • Focus on breathing between points
    • Keep perspective rational
    • Enable good decision making
  • Use on court reminders on changeovers to maintain motivation and belief

Finding Your Optimal Level

Everyone’s optimal level of intensity for good performance is different. For instance, one player may perform their best at a high level of intensity while another does better at a lower level. You have to find your optimal level. However, the above suggestions should be helpful if you have lost some confidence or desire. They should aid you in changing your overall energy. You may not win, but you will be giving yourself a chance.

Practice these behaviors in practice matches or scrimmages as you would practice other skills. Realize that these behaviors are skills too. Being a great competitor requires that you practice with purpose and with attention to detail. You want to focus on doing all of the little things well. That is part of being on the path to mastery, no matter what the pursuit.


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About the Author

Brian Lomax founded PerformanceXtra™ in 2009 with a mission of helping athletes achieve their goals and their top performances more consistently through a progression of mental skills that enables them to focus on what is truly important.

Learn more about the author: https://performancextra.com/brian-lomax/

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