In the world of sports, athletes face various challenges and obstacles along their journey. While victories and triumphs are often celebrated, there are instances when the competition takes an unexpected turn, leading to a disastrous outcome. It is during these moments that athletes must dig deep within themselves and find the strength to overcome adversity. In our latest article, we delve into the topic of when the competition ends up being a disaster, exploring the psychological aspects and providing valuable insights from sports psychologist Froso Patsou. Join us as we uncover the strategies and mindset needed to navigate through these challenging situations and emerge stronger than ever.
“During my career, I lost 9000 shots and I left the court with my head bowed because we had lost with an embarrassing result over 300 times. I missed the most critical – the last ball of the match twenty-six times. The fact that I’ve failed so many times is my biggest achievement”.
The above words don’t belong to some random athlete, but to one of the greatest basketball players in the world – Michael Jordan- and they highlight the significance of the defeat for a career in sports and maximize the performance of an athlete.
In all sports, there are hundreds of incidents involving highly skilled athletes who entered a competition as favorites, only to see it turn into a disaster.
Failure and defeat if treated as a learning process and used as a way of self-improvement and maturity, it is certain that it may lead to only positive results for the athlete’s progress. There are countless times when athletes have been so bitterly disappointed by a bad result that they have reached the point to quit the sport because they feel powerless and helpless to support their talent and all their efforts.
Recovering after a painful defeat or after a bad match result is a state called mental resilience in Sports Psychology and it focuses on:
- Being able to overcome difficult/ stressful situations
- Recovering after failures/injuries
- Remaining calm and concentrated with self-confidence.
The athlete must be familiar with the causes that led him to his defeat. This is the only way in order not to repeat the same mistakes and to be able to use the circumstances that led him to the ugly result to his advantage. The attribution of defeat to ‘ bad luck ‘or ‘ bad day ‘ in sports or external factors such as the referee, the weather or Mercury retrograde is way far from rationalization and serious sports practice.
In order to convert defeat into positive feedback for you and use it to your benefit you should follow the advice below:
- Accept the fact that there is no sport without failures and use the defeats as opportunities to learn from them
- Take responsibility of your mistakes or failures, however, don’t stay tied up in frustration
- Convert the ugly result into a challenge, not a threat
- Get feedback at the end of a lost race, find out what went wrong and redefine your objectives the next day
- Stay positive in thinking that you can come back despite any difficulty and keep trying for the best possible result
References: Derakshan, N., & Eysenck, M.W. (2010). Introduction to the special issue: Emotional states, attention, and working memory. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 189–199. Higgins, J.P.T., & Green, S. (updated March 2011). Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions: version 5.1.0 The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. http://handbook.cochrane.org/. Accessed 21 Jan 2015. Kingston, K., & Hardy, L. (1997). Effects of different types of goals on processes that support performance. The Sport Psychologist, 11, 277 – 293.
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