Do You Or Your Team Have The Comeback Mindset?

Comeback Mindset

Bounce Back When Trailing Behind

In the closing minutes of a game, can your team mount a come back to snatch victory or have difficulty when playing from behind?

What prevents a team from coming back when trailing?

There are several factors that prevent a team from mounting a comeback:

  • Lack of Confidence – Some players just don’t believe in their ability to play well when trailing in a game. These athletes often concede victory before the game is even over.
  • Inability to Manage Pressure – Some athletes feel a crushing sense of pressure during crunch time and find it difficult to focus on the game itself.
  • Fear of Failing – Some players see “close games” as a negative component of competition and tend to play conservative with a try-not-to-lose mentality.
  • Negative Emotions – Some athletes experience overwhelming frustration following a mistake or missed scoring opportunity that completely takes them out of their game, interfering with their ability to execute in tight competitions.

The Comeback Mindset

Even the most “mentally toughest” players may not succeed in mounting a comeback every time when trailing in a game.

The difference-maker for those who comeback in competition is that these athletes make a conscious attempt to win…

They fight and claw trying to inch their way back into contention…

These comebackers never think they are out of the game despite the circumstance… They know one play can swing the momentum in their favor.

Comeback athletes:

  • Let go of mistakes and play in the present
  • Focus forward on what they can do now
  • Maintain an even keel and don’t allow their emotions dictate their play
  • Trust their game and don’t over-analyze game situations
  • Play within themselves instead of trying to do too much
  • Are excited by the challenge of stealing away victory

Duke Blue Devils Basketball and their 2015 Men’s NCAA Tournament Comeback Victory

In their championship final against Wisconsin for NCAA Championship, the Duke Blue Devils turned a nine-point deficit into a five-point victory.

Duke outscored Wisconsin down the stretch by 14 points over the final 13 minutes to grind out a 68-63 victory for their fifth national title.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski summed up the key to Duke’s comeback, “My team had great grit and determination. Our defense down the stretch was magnificent. I don’t know how you can be any better than we were down the stretch.”

How did Duke mount their comeback to win the tournaments?

Duke had belief in their ability to come back.

— Duke senior Quinn Cook: “It shows a lot about their confidence.”

Duke managed the pressure of the big stage.

— Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor: “It’s no different than any other game or situation – they don’t get overwhelmed by pressure.”

Duke stayed focused and positive.

— Duke freshman Tyus Jones: “He [Okafor] got in some foul trouble, but because of his positive attitude, he made some big plays down the stretch.”

Duke prepared for challenging game situations.

— Quinn Cook: “Just our preparation, watching film, our walk-throughs, we went game speed on everything we did. We prepared so well… It pays off… I’m just so happy that, you know, the little things that count, it counted today.”

Two Tips For Developing The Comeback Mindset:

  • Tip #1: Make a conscious choice to keep fighting. Take pride in never giving in, no matter what the circumstances are.
  • Tip #2: View competitions as challenges and not threats. Get excited about finding ways to claw back into competitions.

Successful athletes have learned to overcome fear, perfectionism, and to perform with trust. We’ve created The Fearless Athlete, Workbook Program to help you do this.

Related Sports Psychology Articles

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!

Learn more about our one-on-one mental game coaching.

The Fearless Athlete

For the last two decades, I’ve been working with athletes and helping them optimize their physical ability by teaching them the secrets of top performing athletes. Now, you too can learn how to regain that child-like fearless attitude.

Mental toughness is what separates the winner from the loser in any competition. Champion athletes train hard in practice, perform without fear in competition, and trust their skills in crunch-time.

The Fearless Athlete program is ideal for any athlete that wants to overcome fear of failure and uncover inhibiting perfectionistic traits; or for any coach or parent who wants to teach athletes to perform with trust and freedom in competition.

Leave a Comment