Last weekend we suffered a tough loss at home against our direct competitors for a spot in the next higher league. We had done so many things right, but a few very wrong, so we failed miserably.
In any sport, expect to lose some games and to win others. However, losing can be extremely hard on a team that was expected to win or if the stakes were/are too high. It comes without say that players will be disillusioned and will wonder what went wrong (after all, they put plenty of time and effort towards winning). Players start questioning themselves in the lines of what went wrong, what they should have done better, how they make sure this never happens again?
Nonetheless, it is important realizing that a single loss is not reason enough to derail your dream or plans of finishing top the next time around. Essentially, there is much more to be learned from a loss than from a win. For instance, if you or your team suffers an unusual loss, studying what went wrong or why it happened could help you establish a quick rebound and capitalize on your opponent’s weakness- overconfidence.
One thing that you need to avoid, is nurturing a negative mindset for long. Say for instance your team suffers a loss at the beginning of the season, it is a nurtured ‘we lost’ or ‘we are unfit/not better’ mindset/attitude that will hinder them from performing better in future matches or games. To ensure that you get your team back on track even after suffering a loss or several losses, here are some simple tips that will help you out:
Learn, And Move On
Well, there are plenty of reasons a team expected to win loses. At times, it just may be a bad night for star players, or a poorly executed game plan amongst other reasons. However, despite all that, it is important that each challenge is dealt with fast and individually. Examine each loss and determine what may have led to your team losing.
The main reason of studying your loss is to know what went wrong. Take note and carefully break it down to your team. You need to just point it out. Don’t dwell on the issue. Many coaches have turned an issue that would have been a temporary situation into a lasting mental block. It is therefore important that you be careful with how you handle the whole issue by reinforcing the positive, even as you talk about the negative.
Encourage your Players
This is important as you will help them build confidence in themselves. Avoid being too negative and putting too much pressure as it could lower their self-esteem and the subsequent results in future games or matches.
It is important that you let your team know what didn’t work then. However, be positive: It is important to let them know that they have the ability to make it work, if they believed in themselves. Prep your team to always focus on right now, rather than what happened. When the whistle blows, they should be thinking of what they need to do, rather than why they failed the last time.
Always go with what works for you
Losing unexpectedly could give rise to many questions. It could lead to you thinking that your game plans are not working, but, it is important that you, no matter how tempting it is to scrap them or make changes, refrain from doing this. Losing in a single game doesn’t necessarily warrant scraping your plans and starting from scratch all over again.
When all seems to be going wrong, the best thing to do is to go for what has always worked for you as a team. Focus on your team’s strengths: What they know and do well. Most probably your opponent got you out of your zone as a team. Counter that by reclaiming your team’s confidence by pushing them to do what they do best.
By all means, avoid making sudden and frequent changes in the bid to compensate for the loss. This could lead to you throwing your team off balance, creating even bigger problems. Take time when making change decisions and weigh them in carefully. Ensure that they are unbiased and are not focused on one specific failure. It may be that the loss was a one-time affair and your team will get back to form without you having to change a thing.
The Bigger Picture
Most teams usually set their goals at the beginning of a season, in regards to what they want to accomplish at the end of that season. It is imperative that you keep your players focused on these goals and on achieving them despite minor setbacks and losses.
A single loss is not that bad actually. Let your team know that its goals -the goals it set- can still be achieved. However, if this is to be achieved, they need to overlook the setback and focus on the goal- this is the only way you get back on track. If need be, you could adjust your goals to be more complacent with these new challenges.
No one likes to lose, especially when the winner and loser is decided by one or two points or one key play. Losing a tight game is sometimes even harder to handle than betting blown out of the water. They key is to just keep reminding your players that there is no shame in losing if they gave it their all.