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I recently came across (via Andy Murray on twitter) an interesting blog post “Tour Wife Tales with Kelsey Anderson: Dealing with Defeat”. Kelsey is married to South African Tennis player Kevin Anderson and in her blog she talks about the crucial role the whole support team plays in helping Kevin cope with losses.
I wanted to know how do you help your athletes/teams deal constructively with defeat?
Look forward to reading the responses
A great question and I am not sure that I have the answer! I think that the challenge working with performance athletes it the pressure they put themselves under, but losing is part of the job! Its not a nice part and having read Kelsey's blog I agree with what she has written.
I think it is very much about the 'perspective' that is placed upon the game? What was the expected outcome? Was this a game we expected to win? What effected the result/outcome? Did we play well (Performance/process) and lose? This level of expectancy impacts on the feelings in defeat, no one likes to lose but sometimes its they way we lose (or how we performed) that becomes the issue.
We take a very pragmatic approach and follow a process; I always try and put the game to 'bed' quickly through a review and one to ones (win or lose) so that we can build for the next game. In a team sport it is important that a realistic performance evaluation is maintained by the players, they may have played well as an individual, unit or team and one mistake may have cost them the game. As an individual their personal contribution may have been excellent but they were or the losing side; or they may have won and done little to contribute to the success.
We look at missed opportunities, frame these as learning conversations and what we will do next time. Very often we can show within the same game when we got it right, so it is simply about doing it better, more often!
My role as the coach is to look at the game, consider the players expectations, feedback honestly, openly with a constructive approach and help them to prepare for the next game. The really tough games are the representative ones where you under perform, review and recoginse you can play much better but don't have a game in teh near future to 'fix' things and put things right. It's these occassions when it plays on the players minds but thats a different blog!
This is a grenade of a question!!
Winning and losing is obviously something that comes with sport and I often hear coaches/parents/teachers say winning isnt important and its about the taking part that counts. The term non-competitive is also used now in a lot of youth sport. We have to find the correct balance between long term child development and the sport outcomes.
I come from a football background; your aim is to score more goals than your opponents. So for our players it is important that they strive to achieve this in their practice and game time. As coaches we just have to ensure that this is not the definative outcome we push the players towards. We have a duty of care to ensure they improve their sporting, cognitive, social and physical skills in addition to the sport specific skills. If they then win as a result of these targets then this is to be celebrated. Furthermore, we also have to reward their desire to try new things even if they lose.
Throughout my sessions we often spend time on activities that are very difficult to achieve success in. Our focus when working on these practices is their determination to stick at the task despite losing. This I feel is something that is vitally important in long term development and will only come if we, at the appropriate time, set them challenges and problems that are tough.
It comes back to knowing your players, it will be different for each individual player.
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