Dealing with loss, when you (& everyone) expected you to win.

In the past few weeks, the world of MMA has been in the spotlight and under the microscope of sports media. The much-hyped Holm vs. Rousey, Wideman vs. Rockhold, and McGregor vs. Aldo fights have all ended in a crazy and dramatic fashions.  The media has been swarming these fighters both before and after their fights.  I recently saw a video of the reactions of Jose Aldo and his fight team after his most recent fight.  It showed an inconsolable fighter after a devastating loss.  As an empathetic human like most of the earth’s population, I felt saddened that this footage was released to the public.  It shows a person at his most vulnerable state. As an advocate of Applied Sport Psychology, I find this footage an inevitable reality of every competition that ever existed.  Winning is what we all work and train so hard for.  These fighters spend months pummeling their bodies and training their minds to visualize the moments of their win and it is devastating and surreal when it doesn’t go as planned but there is much to be said about what to do if and when we don’t win.

Loosing hurts!  It sucks!  It’s the worst feeling in the world, it’s defeating and makes you question every decision that you have made up until that point, but as we all have learned or will learn the hard way, it’s always part of the game.  These are hard words to swallow and sound flippant in the moments after a defeat, especially when they come from someone else.  Hearing it from others almost feel worse and can actually make you start to loose confidence in yourself and start catastrophizing the whole situation with statements like, “I’ve wasted so much time training”, “I don’t even deserve to be here”, “I suck”.  Or possibly you are looking to place blame with statements like “my opponent was stalling”, “my uniform was uncomfortable”, “the ref sucked” etc.  Perhaps some of these self-statements are true, so much that your team is in agreement with you, but you MUST be aware at this moment.  This critical moment determines the outcome of your next competition.  It even affects the way in which you cope with outcomes in the rest of your life.  Post-competition analysis is just as important as pre-competition training!  Feeling overwhelmed or emotional after your loss?  STOP LISTENING TO EVERYONE FOR A MINUTE!  This may sound unorthodox and maybe it sounds like the worst piece of advice in a moment where you are not so trusting of yourself, but hear me out.  After your loss, you may be ready to get right back into training to fix whatever went wrong or maybe you are ready to quit all together, but first take a look at your most important tool in your training (you, duh).  Take some time to shut everyone else out temporarily and do an honest analysis of your experience of both before and during your competition. You can do this by yourself or I would suggest a Sport Psychology Consultant, but it is so important that you be fair and balanced when reviewing self-judgments.  Ask yourself critical and difficult questions about your training and during competition decisions and reactions.  Mentally run through your whole training camp and competition step by step.  It is absolutely essential that you avoid tempting self-defeating thoughts, excuses and placing blame during this assessment.  Be real with yourself first.  Once you have been honest with yourself you can be honest with your team.  Your team has spent so much of their lives helping yours and they have your best interest at heart, so it is important to listen to them, but make sure you spend time analyzing your own internal mental state as well.  Once you’ve done that, you will have a renewed sense of optimism, which is essential to reaching the goals you have set for yourself.

Set it and Reach it.  Get To The Peak of your Performance.