How to cope with losing
In life, and most certainly in baseball, losing is inevitable. In fact, most people would say that as humans we lose more often than we win. While that idea can seem discouraging, there can actually be quite a few benefits to losing. An article published by the Washington Post stated that losing in sports allows one to learn from failure and builds philosophy, camaraderie, and sportsmanship among a team. However, before one can learn to benefit from a loss, one must first learn how to cope with the act of losing itself. The following will address how to cope with losing, specifically in baseball, as well as include some pertinent quotes and ideas from people who know what it means to lose, and have dealt with it well.
Get Back Out There
Ted Williams – “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
One of the best ways to get over a loss is to get back on the practice field. Rather than wasting time thinking about what you did wrong that might have contributed to the team’s loss, take action so that it doesn’t happen again. Felt like your pitching was off? Get to the mound and throw 100 solid pitches. Didn’t hit effectively in the game? Go to the batting cages and smack 100 solid hits. Dropped a catch? Grab a buddy and catch 100 fly-balls. Getting active and focusing on improving your game is a great way to prevent yourself from getting caught up in what you might have done better in the last game and enables you to refocus yourself.
Rather, using this time to reinforce your ability to bounce back from setbacks by putting in the work is a critical part of the process of getting over a loss. Acknowledge the amount of work you are putting into your game and use that to counteract the feelings that come with a loss. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, your teammates can be a great resource to improve your game, just as there are ways you can help them improve theirs. Working on your collective skills with your teammates can only build a stronger, more cohesive, better team as a whole.
Watch the Game
Yogi Berra – “You can observe a lot by watching.”
While you don’t want to waste time weighing yourself down with what you might have done better, watching the game is a great way to view the events of the loss from a different perspective. Give yourself a day or two, and then watch the film of the game with a fresh set of eyes and understanding. Additionally, just watching baseball can be helpful. Take some time to watch your favorite teams, players you want to model your game after, etc. Not only does this serve as a welcome distraction from the feelings of a loss, you might just pick up something you want to incorporate or improve within your own game.
Yet another helpful part about watching the film of your game is the ability to focus on your successes as well. As the quote above says, in baseball you fail far more than you succeed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you played poorly. After a loss, it is important to not let what you did wrong overshadow what you did right, and this can often happen amidst the feelings of frustration that come with losing. By watching yourself play, you can also discover parts of the game that you did well on that day, and use those as encouragement moving forward.
Babe Ruth – “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
A tough loss can be a devastating blow to a player’s confidence, especially if they feel as though they made a mistake that might have cost the game. The worst thing you can do is let that loss affect your confidence. A surprising amount of mistakes are made in a game simply due to a lack of confidence, and a hard loss can be a very easy way to let your confidence take a hit. Force yourself to combat this potential outcome, and have the confidence and faith in yourself to approach the next game with your head held high, chest puffed out, and with assurance in your own abilities.
Brett Hall – “Losing is essential to anyone’s success. The more you lose, the more you want to win.”
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is as important as any of the other tips above. Yes, you should use the loss as motivation to improve your skills and get better. Yes, you should review the game to see what went wrong and work hard so that it doesn’t happen again. Yes, you should never let a loss affect the confidence you have in your own abilities and skills. However, while all of these things are true, they all focus on the loss itself. Once you feel as though you have noted your role in a loss, improved on your abilities so that it doesn’t happen again, and intentionally kept yourself from losing confidence, you must be able to put all of it behind you and look forward to the next game. If you get too caught up in what happened in the last game, chances are high you will make mistakes in the next one. Do everything you can to make sure the loss doesn’t bring you down, analyze and improve yourself, and then let that feeling of loss go, keeping only the drive to get better and be better the next time around.
This is not exact science, and losing affects everyone differently. However, what is universal is that everyone loses, and losing has an important role to play in the shaping of a person on and off the field. Keep these tips in mind the next time you suffer a loss, and you might just be surprised with how you emerge from the defeat.