The Optimal Athletic Mindset for Rematches

The Optimal Athletic Mindset for Rematches

What mindset do you take into a rematch?

Many athletes who won the previous game against an opponent feel confident heading into a rematch. They think, “Since we won the previous matchup, we can win the upcoming game.”

Previous success adds to an athlete’s confidence. However, let’s turn the situation around.

What if you lost the previous head-to-head competition? Are you just as confident as if you won? How about if the opposing team dominated the last matchup? Would you believe you had a high chance of winning?

Ultimately, the question is, “If success builds confidence, does that mean previous losses detract from confidence?” While it might sound logical, that conclusion is faulty.

Sure, if you see the opposing team as better because they beat you earlier in the season, then yes, you will lose some confidence in your ability to pull off a victory. 

And, if you believe you will lose, you won’t put in the work to improve, push yourself, prepare, and game plan for victory.

The optimal approach for rematches is to:

  • Learn from the past while realizing that you are not the same athlete or team that you were earlier in the season or even a month ago.
  • Focus on the game, not the “rematch.” It’s essential to stay focused on the game itself and not allow the past loss or rematch hype to distract you from your performance.
  • Maintain your composure, especially early in the competition. Rematches can be emotionally charged, so staying composed and mentally locked in is crucial.
  • Embrace the challenge. Prepare mentally and physically to your fullest and embrace the opportunity to showcase your skills and mental toughness.

During the 2023 regular season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 25-11. The Eagles dominated most of the game with 472 yards of offense and 27 first downs while holding Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield to a season-low 174 passing yards.

Fast forward to the playoffs, and the Buccaneers were set to face the Eagles in a rematch to advance to the Divisional round.

Tampa Bay wideout Chris Godwin commented on the Buccaneers’ mindset and confidence heading into the game due to their growth and preparation throughout the season.

GODWIN: “We’ve evolved so much. Just going through an entire season, figuring out who you are, going through the ups and downs of a season, you know, things have changed in a lot of ways. So, I’m excited about the opportunity, but at the same time, they’ve changed as well. Surely, they’re going to come into the game with a different game plan and plan to attack us in a different way. Obviously, we have already played this year, but things will be different this week.”

A rematch is just another match, just another game. Always remember what matters most is not who you are playing but what you bring to the competition.

Your mindset is how you approach a competition. 

Just as you carefully create a game plan for an opponent, consciously choose your mindset by asking yourself, “How do I want to approach this competition? How do I want to compete? How do I want to respond to challenging circumstances during the competition?”

Related Sports Psychology Articles

The Fearless Athlete (Digital Download)

“The Fearless Athlete” audio and workbook program helps you overcome fear and anxiety to perform with trust and confidence. Learn how to overcome the mental handcuffs of perfectionism and fear of failure, leading you to perform with unshakeable trust in your skills.

With the use of the ‘The Fearless Athlete’ and ‘Ultimate Sports Parent’ workbooks, I see subtle but significant results in a short period of time. My young athlete did not even know about positive self-talk until we started the program.”

~Adam, Sports Parent

Leave a Comment