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A Lesson on Losing

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Losing blows. This is not earth-shattering news. Losing blows because it is the opposite of winning. In fact, the definition of losing is the “failure to win” (thefreedictionary.com). It means you were defeated, your team did not measure up, or you blew the last play. Suffice it to say, losing hurts. Which is why it is such a good thing.

One of the greatest coaches in sport’s history, Vince Lombardi, said “if you can accept losing, you can’t win” (brainyquote.com). I do not want players to accept losing, defeat, or failure. I expect them to learn from it, otherwise they will make the same mistakes each game and continue losing.

When I was in sixth grade, I lost. Time took away the plays and the final score, but I still have a memento from that game. I stripped off my gear next to the swinging chain-link gate at the side of the field. I was shaking with anger as I put my shoulder pads into my bag. I distinctly remember kneeling, then, with a giant yell, I slammed my fist down into the ground. Well, I did not hit the ground. I smashed my hand onto the one patch of concrete next to the chain-link gate.

Every angry feeling I had about the game disappeared in an explosion of pain radiating up my arm. I punched the concrete so hard that I compacted my ring and pinkie knuckles on my right hand. The kicker is I never told my parents. I just waited for a week as the swelling subsided and my hand stopped seizing up.

There are two main lessons to take from my angry pugilism. One, if you are going to hit something, avoid concrete or other really hard objects. Two, the only thing I remember about that game is that I lost. I do not remember how well or poorly I played defense. I forgot if I made good passes or dropped a lot of balls. The only lesson I ever learned from that game is to avoid hitting really hard objects.

So when you lose it is important to set anger and frustration aside. Take the emotion out of your loss for a few minutes and take stock of how the game went for you and your team. Try identifying any mistakes you made during the game, and work on correcting them for the next game.

Once you identify those mistakes go ahead and get angry. Vent, scream, let it out. Then get over it. Losing may blow, but it is only permanent if you fail to change before the next game.

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Notice the Right Knuckles Compared to the Left Knuckles

Featured Image Credit – kennysilva.net

Cheers,
Gordon