October 5, 2015

Do You Beat Yourself Up and Lose Confidence After Defeat?

Sports Psychology - Mental TrainingDo you (or your athletes) beat yourself up and lose confidence after a poor performance or defeat?

Or do you walk away feeling dejected and lose motivation to improve after a tough loss?

Some athletes think they can use defeat as a strong motivator…

But defeat can wreck careers in sports–depending on how one reacts.

Do you believe in the idea that you can learn or grow from defeat or failure?

Some athletes argue that nothing good can come from making mistakes, losing a game, or failing.

Resilient athletes would argue that defeat gives them a chance to gain knowledge about their training, preparation, and the mental game, and thus improve.

They think the best lessons are often learned in the context of a setback–no matter how big or how small.

Here’s a great example…

Golfer Rory McIlroy squandered a 4-stroke lead in the final round of the 2011 Masters and lost the event.

He used this defeat to teach him how to perform better under pressure… Just a couple months later, he won the 2011 US Open.

Rory said that he wasn’t ready to win the Masters, but learned a lot from his defeat.

“I learned a lot. I think one of the things I learned was that as a person and as a golfer, I wasn’t ready to win the Masters; wasn’t ready to win a major,” said McIlroy.

He went on to say how he turned defeat into triumph just a couple months later…

“I realized that I needed to try and be myself a little bit more.  That was something that I tried to put into practice at the U.S. Open when I had to go out with the lead and try and just get the job done.”

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to be critical of yourself or your team’s performance, if you choose to.

A better option – one that can lead to great mental toughness – is to use defeat to learn, improve, or grow.

Resilient athletes are able to grow from defeat and use failure as a springboard to improve mentally toughness.

Instead of dwelling on what went wrong in your next competition, ask yourself: “How can I use this experience to become a better athlete?”

This article was based on one of many e-books you can download as an exclusive member of Peaksports Network, my online mental training program. Here’s the link to the e-books:

Peaksports Network – Online Mental Game Training Membership Site for Athletes



  1. Max Pollack says:

    Rory McIlroy definitely used his lesson of defeat for his benefit. If we all can focus and try to understand that we have the opportunity to improve from a situation such as this, then we will. The mind is the most powerful part of us all. If you can strengthen your muscles in the gym to hit the ball harder, shoot the ball farther, and pummel your opponent, then you must also train your mind to strengthen everything that your muscles cannot do. People wonder why the Mohammed Ali’s and Chris Johnsons, Derrick Rose, Ray Rice’s, Nadal’s, and many others are so successful when they dont have the build of a champion. Yes they all have specific traits that give them a huge push such as speed and power. But most of all is the power they have mentally in game time. You don’t see them throw a fit if they mess up. After a trip up, missed shot, mis hit, etc. they get right back up and stay calm. Their mind is focused and learning from everything that is happening. That is the art of sports, the art of pursuing greatness. While not actually focused on becoming a champion, these and many other individual athletes are on their way to that great achievement. Just like Rory, we must take everything that happens in our situations not only on the court or field, but mostly in life. Get back up and finish the game like a champion.

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