Overcoming Mistakes in Your Sport with Strength and Dignity

Overcoming Mistakes in Your Sport with Strength and Dignity

You make a massive mistake in competition.

The last feelings you feel are strength and dignity.

Instead, you feel frustration. You feel chaos and stress. That’s not how it was supposed to goI messed up bad, you say to yourself. Your heart rate spikes. You blurt, ‘oh crap!’ in the heat of the moment.

But, you must get back to playing. You don’t have time to linger in panic. You need to get back in the zone. A few seconds go by, you collect yourself, and then throw yourself back in the game with all your might.

How does the rest of the game play out for you?

Does this drastic mistake cripple the rest of your playing? Do the thoughts of ‘I suck’ or ‘I messed up’ or ‘I let my team down’ or ‘everyone is judging me’ consume your mind?

Or does this mistake fuel the rest of your game? Do the thoughts of ‘I got it next time’ or ‘I’m going to give my all from here on out’ lighten up the mood a bit? Do they give you a spark to finish the game strong?

Mistakes can be devastating.

Missing a penalty kick, scoring an own goal, passing to the other team in the defensive third, or missing a finish inside the box can all be horrifying.

Everyone’s been there.

To play sport is to make mistakes, and you’re never going to be perfect. It’s going to suck and be terrifying when they happen, but you’re going to have to face them with strength.

You’re also going to have to come up with a game plan to deal with them that isn’t beating yourself up.

Your Mistake Routine

A big mistake will happen in a split second, so must regroup fast.

If it’s a mistake that was a bad pass that turns into a counterattack, you need to hustle back as hard as you can. Focus on where you need to go immediately in that moment. Do you need to track down your mark? Do you need to cover for your defense?

After the play has finished, what do you need to do to collect yourself and not make the mistake again? You can say, ‘not my best decision, but I’m going to make sure I get it next time’ or ‘not a great pass, but I will put my body in a better position to receive with a good touch next time.’

These types of affirmations are honest and constructive. You’re not puffing yourself up, but rather, you’re recognizing where you fell short with humility, and coming up with a solution that is productive:

‘I got it next time. I’ll make this run sooner so I can get out of the defensive third quicker and make my service to the forwards more accurate’ is an another example of constructive affirmation.

If it’s a mistake that was a missed shot, can you take a breath, fix your ponytail, and regroup?

Can you change your posture, and stand a bit taller with your shoulders back after the mistake? Having an upright posture brings your confidence back because your body signals positive emotions to your brain. Give it a try so you can get back in the game with strength and dignity.

After the game, you don’t need to make yourself a punching bag. Stop beating yourself up, and stop thinking your teammates are going to think of you any less. Chances are, you’re so focused on how you failed because of your negativity bias. Meanwhile, your teammates have moved on and forgot that you blew it a few times. No one likely remembers, and they definitely won’t remember one year from now.

Use the car ride home for constructive affirmation again. Why did the mistake happen, and what will you do in the coming weeks to tidy up your skills in this area – tactically, technically, and physically?

Mistakes happen all the time, but you can overcome them with strength and dignity by seeing them as an opportunity to refine your craft, and continue to be a humble student of your sport.

Mistakes happen all the time, but you can overcome them with strength and dignity by seeing them as an opportunity to refine your craft, and continue to be a humble student of your sport. Click To Tweet

Humbling yourself is a good thing. When everyone is going great all the time, you don’t always get better, and you may even be susceptible to entitlement and complacency.

Mistakes are an excellent opportunity to practice humility, and to continue to grow in your skills and be intentional with how you train.

Mistakes are an excellent opportunity to practice humility, and to continue to grow in your skills and be intentional with how you train. Click To Tweet

When You’re In A Playing Rut

Quick mistakes in the game last for a temporary moment, and you usually forget about them in a day or two, but what about being in a playing rut?

I’m not talking just any rut, either.

A long one.

I’m talking months long, when you just can’t seem to get your groove.

Weekend after your weekend, your have an awful first touch, you miss every goal scoring opportunity, you feel sluggish, you make every bad pass, and you are tentative to go to the ball.

The list goes on and on that you begin to think there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

Your confidence is that low.

If this is you, I get it. Playing ruts are a terrible place to be, and crawling out of them is not an easy pursuit.

When you’re in a season of gloom, it can be hard to maintain hope that things will get better. It’s just one rain cloud after the other that hovers over you.

As horrible as it is, you’re going to have to weather the storm, and you’re going to have to do so with courage.

It’s not useful, nor is it productive, to wallow in your sorrow. It’s tempting to play the victim and allow yourself to get dragged down further into the depths of your despair.

The season you’re in sucks, but the glimmer of hope is, you will come out of this.

You can take some action, too, and put one foot in front of the other ever so slowly.

You still must steward this waiting period well.

You must be diligent. You must keep hope. You must have faith. These are the things you control in the during your worst moments, and to regain some momentum.

What can you do right now?

Maybe you need to do something uncomfortable so your confidence is birthed from you again.

Maybe, you need to thrust yourself into a new challenge, like training with athletes better than you.

Maybe, you need to call a teammate to train with and hold each other accountable.

Maybe, you need to do more repetitions that are purposeful.

Maybe you need to stop going through the motions. Maybe it’s time to practice your skills with quality.

Were you practicing with quality before, or were you going half in, unprepared for the intensity and pace of the game?

Now is the time to be honest with yourself.

Your rut won’t vanish overnight, but the good news is, each little win along the way, each little action step, each intentional training session, will give you encouragement.

You also need to have hope.

Without hope, nothing is meaningful anymore. Without hope, you aren’t motivated. Without hope, you get complacent. Without hope, there’s nothing to aim for in the future. You need to have hope, even in the darkest of times.

Haven’t you made it out before, too? You’ve been through hardship, maybe even harder than this in school, sports, or life. You’ve been through the storm, and trekked through wild, always making it out on the other end.

You should have hope. You’ve gotten through this before, right?

Your other option could be despair. It could also be complaining and grumbling about your situation, but how would that work out for you? Is it productive?

You need to have hope because it gives you purposeful action, and helps you focus on what you can do right now.

Now would be a good time to do deliberate practice, and to straighten up your life. Make your routine more organized. Focus on what is essential. Clean up your surroundings. Stand up tall. Eat healthy. Do your chores. Dress nicely. Floss your teeth. Be so diligent that everything, even the mundane, has meaning.

Dark times become a lot easier when you’re less disheveled, and more organized and disciplined.

Dark times become a lot easier when you're less disheveled and chaotic, and more organized and disciplined. Click To Tweet

It’s not going to be easy to muster up all of your willpower to get things in order, but it’s worth it.

Victory and glory await after you take action. In the end, you can look back and recognize that this waiting season birthed endurance and perseverance inside of you that you didn’t know you had.

Even better, you know that you have the strength to do it all again and to face adversity with fierceness.

Because guess what? You’re never off the hook in sports and life.

When that rut comes again, because it will, you’re far better equipped to handle it without panic and stress, but rather, strength and dignity.




Do you have deeper questions on training, recovery, and nutrition?



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“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4

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