How to deal with losing…

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Jools Murray is an accredited Strength & Conditioning coach from Canada and has worked with some of the World’s best athletes in the UK and her home country.  Currently working at the University of Toronto, (Canada) with a number of sport, Jools previously worked with the  English Institute of Sport whilst studying for her Masters in S&C, as well as coaching the U23 GB Ultimate Frisbee Team.  

To find out more about Jools and to read our interview from June 2015 CLICK HERE

 


Members of the Rye soccer team console each other after losing to Garden City in overtime of the New York State Class A soccer championship game at SUNY Cortland Nov. 20, 2010. Garden City defeated Rye 2-1to win the championship. ( Seth Harrison / The Journal News )

Being a highly competitive individual I still struggle to understand how to deal with losing as a coach. I have just come back from a football (soccer) match, where I am the S&C coach for the Men’s Toronto Varsity Blues team. We lost to Carlton 2-0. To give you the background, this is “one of those games we should have won because we were the better team”. I have a whole host of coping/dealing strategies.

1) Make it mean something: make sure to reflect and learn from the game, otherwise it really is a loss.

2) Walk away looking like you’ve won: don’t give the other team the satisfaction of seeing you upset/down about it.

3) Move on: don’t dwell on it. There is an entire season ahead and the minute the final whistle goes, you are now in preparation for the next game.

But I feel like this isn’t enough. Too many times I have been part of the pre-game excitement. The possibilities are endless. Winning is right around the corner. Anything could happen. Then bit by bit the game creeps away from you; until finally you are playing out of your skin to desperately secure a win or make a come-back. I always think, “Why didn’t we play like this at the very beginning of the game?” Games are lost so easily from the beginning. Too easily. We give away so much at the start which, towards the end of the game, we wouldn’t even give away 1/100 of that.

I don’t believe the answer is to play the start of the game the way you would play the last 10mins of a game you were losing in. However, I do believe there must be a better way to be mentally ready when the match begins. My current though is having a strong focus for the beginning. Something that will create intent in the team and provide purpose to players actions and choices. How you would create this to be tangible… I’m not sure. I only know what it should feel like. Almost like getting ready to do a 1RM (one rep max) on a lift. You don’t go in and try the full 100% 1RM, instead you build up the weight but each lift is done with the intent to lift something so heavy, you can only do it once. I believe this would have to be continually trained and practiced.

We all know that if the set-up isn’t right, the foundations are shakey and everything that comes after is simply reactive patch-job stuff to try and make up for it. So, get the foundations right. Make your start out of diamonds. Have structure. Be clear. Build your start with the hardest known material in the world.

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