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29 years coaching experience/ 7 years as a varsity boys' basketball coach, now assisting

Monday, June 1, 2015

The "Loser Look"


I've probably written about this before, but it's something that I see often. Well, I see it when something is on the line when it comes to athletics. The "loser look" is that look you see in an athlete's face when they are scared. They are scared at a time when the game or a championship is in doubt. If you've been around sports long enough, when you see it, you'll know it.

You will hear parents or fans say things like "Why's he playing so scared?", "What's wrong with her?" or even profane comments. It's disappointing to see especially if it is your own child, but it is what they do with that look or after that look occurs that matters.

Do they quit? Do they let it pile on top of them to the point that they cannot do anything? Or do they compete through it? Do they move on to the next play even though the last one went to wrong?

I think it's important to remember that when competing especially for a championship that there will be adversity. When you accept that adversity is coming, when it happens you can handle it better. No game, none has ever gone smoothly. Sure some seem like they did, but even in a no-hitter, or a 22-1 win in baseball, someone struck out, someone made an error, someone ran the bases wrong; something has gone astray.

If you ever find a kid that doesn't have the loser look, what you have is a natural born winner. They are the player that says "come on boys, let's go do this", they're the one who everyone (even coaches) thrive off of. They don't come around naturally that often.

But I think they can be created. I think if you have a competitive child they do not have to be a leader, but they can be a competitive winner. And being a competitive winner is performing under pressure. So how do you create this in your child?

1. Talk to them after a game in which you see the "look", in them or someone else.
2. Tell them that no matter how nervous they are (I believe nerves are good because it shows you care and want to compete), they can play hard.
3. Next play. The quicker they can move on from a bad play, forget it, and move on, the tougher they will be.
4. If something isn't clicking, don't let that shut your entire game down. Find some way to contribute!
5. If all else fails for this game or this championship, sit on the bench and be the best cheerleader you can be!

It's creating and developing mental toughness.

Competing is fun, winning is fun. losing isn't fun and playing scared will take all of the fun out of athletics.

Sports often builds character, but it can expose it. It can expose that your character is good or bad.

I love sports, I believe that they prepare you so much for what life will throw at you. If you have the loser look, it can be disappointing, but you can get rid of it, and you can compete and win despite it.