Just this Thursday I was a part of a team that lost a semi finals in a pretty competitive domestic basketball league here in Sydney. A good season came to an abrupt end on the back of a very poor performance from our team. More than losing, the fact that we lost due to a poor performance was the thing that stung the most. But there’s lessons to be learnt losing that’ll help you to maintain confidence for you and your team.
If you have been playing basketball for long enough you will have moments where your team collectively has the worst possible game. So bad in fact you wonder how you could be so shit! But these things happen, you just hope that it’s during the season and not when you are playing a big game.
Maintaining confidence like the pros
Professional and US college basketball teams do a lot of work learning lessons after losing a basketball game. At the very least coaches break tape and sometimes spend hours doing this to show the players what they did wrong and most importantly what they did right. It is important to reconfirm to basketball players what they did right. Affirmation is the easiest way of maintaining confidence.
In an article I wrote about Visualising Techniques I mentioned that when I was playing for my college team, the Solano Falcons. Athletes regularly met with psychologists. After every game all the players on the Solano Falcons basketball team had to meet with a psychologist and discuss the game and how that player performed. This allowed athletes to break through the disappointment and prevents basketball players getting stuck in a “funk”. Put simply, the psychologist helps players maintain their confidence.
Having a coach that breaks tape and psychologists for most teams is way too much. It’s not something that can easily affordable. But there’s a few things you can do regaining confidence after a loss.
Take time to be disappointed
It’s ok to be disappointed and angry after a loss so let those emotions get out. No use bottling them up. BUT and I capitalised this to emphasise how important this is. Never to the disappointment and emotions carry on too long. My rule is, when I wake up the next morning all is forgotten.
This doesn’t mean you do not remember the loss or a bad game. It is merely a flush of emotion and negativity that causes issues with confidence. For example, missing the game winning shot which impacts your confidence to be too scared to take the game winning shot again.
With this Thursday’s semi final loss I walked to the side after the buzzer sounded and had a moment to myself. My thought’s were of disappointment and upset at the way we as a team played. After about 5 minutes to myself I rejoined the team huddle. This is another important point. After a loss it is important to stay together in close proximity. Play as a team, suffer as a team!
Get vocal, get positive
Change in your mental state comes with a change in your physical state. After a loss do what you can to prep up your team. Speak up, encourage people especially if they had a bad game. Speak about the positives with the game and some of the take away for the next season.
Leading the positive talk removes the issue of confidence demoralizing losses where players get so shell shocked that their game get affected. By having the team talk a positive air of energy is created for the next game or next season.
Get in the gym the next morning and work on your game
After a loss I am always in the gym working out or on court working on my game. It’s just the way I have been for the entirety of my basketball career. Getting into the gym straight away helps me get focused on my game instead of the mistakes I made.
Depending on how my body feels; if I am injured or sore. I would have an intense workout. On Friday morning I was in the gym at 630am and had an intense shoulders and arms workout. This helped me feel committed and the emotion of the loss was all but forgotten.
Losing games or playing poorly is apart of the game of basketball. There’s a lot of lessons to be learnt from losses too. Losses however shouldn’t affect your confidence so it is important to get in a routine to help yourself and your teammates out to deal with the emotions and move on ready for the next game or next season.
Dealing with a loss is a team thing. Helping your teammates is the very same therapy as what you would receive if you were down.