How to deal with losing

 In Coaches, Professional & Olympic Athletes

Losing stinks! There is no doubt about it [period]. However my theory is that you feel your worst about losing when you are not mentally prepared to compete. Although you may be physically prepared to compete when you aren’t mentally prepared to compete, you aren’t prepared. If you aren’t prepared mentally then you aren’t prepared to lose and probably don’t know how to deal with it, particularly when you’ve been physically practicing hard and giving it your all. When you’ve been practicing hard and giving it your all and end up losing then what else can you do? What other hope is there? What do you have left? You practice longer and harder…burnout sets in…you take a break and the same cycle happens over and over.

What do you do

First you need a mental game plan. What do you need to do to enhance your physical training that you will help you physically perform optimally?

Second, it’s important to be aware of how do you deal with loss and figure out where that comes from.

Third, it’s important to have a (different) plan for dealing with loss that doesn’t include all of the guilt and anger that I see and hear associated with it. Loss is feedback. A loss is never just a loss and it’s also not designed to necessarily make you have to practice longer and harder…burnout sets in…you take a break and the same cycle happens over and over.

This society is so focused on winning that we haven’t helped athletes deal with losing; however you define that.

Reasons for losing

1. Training is to blame-well of course training it to blame because if you haven’t developed a mental plan around your game there is no depth to your ‘game’ except for training.

2. It is my fault-what is the ‘fault’ all about? Most of the Olympic, professional and amateur athletes I work with give their all everyday in training and competition and I am assuming you do too. If that is the case then what is it that you didn’t do or do right?

3. I could have done better-sports is like life, you have to grow and develop into it and that is how you get better. Losing provides feedback of those areas that you can improve on for the next time.

When I hear these reasons for losing they are all attached to an athletes physical ‘game’ but what’s underneath all of these reasons? For example, I could have done better probably actually means you are lacking confidence, losing focus in the moment or not staying present in the process (living in the outcome).

All of these reasons for losing have a mental basis and that is the area of your training you need to build if you want to not only ‘be a better loser’ but a better athlete. There is more to losing than ‘meets the eye’. Losing like negative self talk is a self fulfilling prophecy. They lead to more of the same.

Learning to lose will also help you learn to win! Free initial consult: via phone or Skype.

Happy Monday!

Dr. Michelle



Dr. Michelle Cleere
In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, Dr. Michelle Cleere helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sports Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teacher her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.
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