Growing Pains in Sports
“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
This phrase was the introduction to a sports show called “The Wide World of Sports” to describe the human drama of athletic competition.
Athletes seek a sense of joy and accomplishment when they succeed in sports. Likewise, you sometimes have pain when you fall short.
That pain can be disappointment from working so hard all year long and just missing your goal. That pain can be frustration from making a critical mistake at the end of the season. That pain can be anger of a bad call that knocked your team out of the playoffs.
Emotional pain comes in many forms in competitive sports… But growing pains is another positive form of pain.
Growing pains are the experiences you gain when things don’t go according to plan, when you fall short of what you set out to achieve or when unfortunate circumstances strike at the most inopportune time.
For example, the swimmer who was really pushing in practice all year long trying to make a national cut, only to miss the cut by 0.2 of a second may learn how to split their race more effectively in future meets…
Or the soccer team who got knocked out of the playoffs after leading the game 3-1 may learn how to close out games better.
Or the golfer who spiraled downward after being on track to shooting their best score in their career may learn how to manage their emotions to stay mentally in their game.
The experience gained from growing pains can mentally prepare you to get the next level.
The inexperienced Denver Nuggets are facing the playoff savvy San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Nuggets are the youngest team in the playoffs and the Spurs are the second oldest team in the playoffs. The Nuggets lost Game 1, 101-96.
Nuggets veteran Paul Millsap talked about how playoff experience is the best teacher for the young Nuggets squad.
MILLSAP: “You can talk all you want, but until you really get into it, and get into the thick of things, you can’t really understand what [the playoffs] feels like. We can teach and talk and all that, but at the end of the day they gotta get into it and feel it themselves.”
Millsap also highlighted the value of experience and that all experiences, whether deemed good or bad, are opportunities to learn and become better in the future.
MILLSAP: “Growing pains are a part of life, definitely a part of basketball. So you’re gonna have pains, growing pains. And you’re gonna have lessons within them that you gotta learn.”
Of course, the Nuggets are going to fight tooth and nail to win but, if the team uses this experience to learn for the future, the experience will be invaluable and long-lasting.
How to Turn Losses into Lessons:
After each competition, no matter if you win or lose, or how well you performed, find 2 takeaways that can improve your performance in future competitions.
These lessons can be physical (improving condition, agility, footwork, etc.), technical (strengthen specific techniques) or mental (improve confidence, manage perfectionism, etc.).
Use past experience to help you grow and improve your game for the future. Having a growth perspective is critical for your success and a positive mindset.
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Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
If you’re a top performer during practice but find yourself under-performing in competition, the most likely culprit holding you back is your mental game. In fact, many athletes struggle with the same problem….
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
Meet with us via Skype, phone, FaceTime, or GoTo Meeting. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.
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What are our mental coaching students saying?
“After your session, Mason had a game. He had the best game so far! He hustled, shot, no goals but two assists but he was cool with it because his focus was on shooting and not scoring (finally), defended well with his hands – finally put it all together. It was fun to watch and you could tell he felt really good about it.”*
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