In competition, most of us have had losses at times. Either spectral defeats, things not going to plan or just plain beaten.
There are a number of different reactions after this and of course the usual two are
1) THAT’;S IT! I’;M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! ITS OVER!
2) BUGGER THAT! I’;ll get the barstewards next time.
Now, for most of us a loss, especially at a high and very public level (eg me at televised world championships) can not only cause a severe loss of confidence which then leads you to question whether or not you have the necessary ability or talent, but also leads you to form a barrier about coming back to do it again and being put in another situation like that.
Now, this is where problems can occur where on the one hand you want to compete again to reclaim the status and place you had before and surpass it but you also seem to suffer a direct lack of motivation and it almost feels like dragging your feet through mud OR excessive nerves pre competition leading to huge question marks about your ability to win.
Now, I am not writing this article blindly, I had a similar situation this year where I decided to defend my world title after having major shoulder surgery. At the last world championships I had not only taken the title but also took a major world record. I was not ready, my shoulder was not ready and I had to retire after my first lift (there were other factors to this). This 60 seconds where I was sanding with my coach with TV cameras on me trying to make the decision wherever to carry on and go for a second lift knowing it could end my lifting career completely through further injury to the shoulder and the overwhelming burning need to fight like hell plus the ego factor – made that 60 seconds the longest I ever remember.
Everyone was expecting fireworks from a woman known for big lifts, big noise and being "out there".
Now, I have worked with many sports people over the years and really, unless you have actually been there and experienced real competing yourself over a ling time you will never understand the complexities of loss and particularly at a high level with all the added pressures. Again this makes my point that without intense competitive experience you should NOT be working with sports people.
The only way to redress the balance and regain the motivation you have lost or the fear of losing again is in two ways,
1) First of all you need to look at why you lost. What happened on a practical basis. You have to swallow your ego for this and really look from the point of view of a coach.
You have now in a unique and much better position than if you had won every competition or fight. You have now been exposed to criteria highlighting new areas you need to improve you would not have noticed before, your opponent or competition has forced you into new situations you can learn from as well and you need to LIST THOSE POSITIVES and then beside each one write an action plan of what you can do about it and bring with you to the next competition.
I can think of one particular client who had the worst ever out to a fight imaginable but if you look at it another way, he survived the fight, nothing could ever be worse than he had encountered and he was still improving and he was going to bring all of that plus everything else he learned to the ring for the next fight … and he did … and won and is still winning.
This process is hard to do and sometimes needs someone else to help you do that.
2) You must address what will happen in you do lose again. Always work forwards day by day. So you back to training, then you get back into your training and then you see another competition you can do or another competition is arranged etc. You may go in at a lower level but you are still in a better position to improve consistently and you have to remember that the people who support you want to see you do well.
If you address all those fears then it takes the pressure off and lets you focus on what you really do want and work out a solid strategy for the next competition.
You also have to remember that all those people you think you let down? You have not.
All the people involved with you are doing it out of support for you, love for the sport, commitment to you and they do it willingly. The only way you are going to let them down is if you give up when you have talent and ability to go on and take it further. That is how you let them down and the only person who is putting the pressure on you … is you. Or a lot of coaches and people who help you that have been involved in sport a long time, they will give you everything they have got as long as you are committed and making the effort and ask when you are in trouble. That is what they do it for and its does not matter if you win or lose to them.
Obviously there are a lot of other issues that I deal with in regards to clients and the problems that can occur and the fear that goes hand in hand with losing and the 27 million "what if’;s" that go with it. These are just a few basic steps I take with most clients (and myself), whether at amateur or at professional level with all the world press looking at them.
No matter what happens, it is not the end and it is not over. It is the beginning or a new level to your training, competitiveness and mindset – so damn well use it.
For further information please go to http://www.ironpsyche.com or email me directly.