3 Ways to Re-frame Setbacks in Sport
“I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.”- Bruce Lee
When it comes to successfully dealing with adversity, injury or failure, the first thing I’d like to express is that these things are all relative. What one person considers as a failure or adversity, another person might not. I am by no means an expert on these topics, and much of what I will share in this post is based on my personal experience with leg injuries that I have encountered in the past 5 years. While I have dealt with some significant injuries that have required reconstructive surgeries, my path still looks like a walk in the park compared to others who have dealt with more significant adversity. This leads me to my first point.
1. Don’t be a victim.
Instead consider that adversity can actually be a good thing. When bad things happen (losing a basketball game, getting hurt, etc) sometimes these things are out of our control. Sometimes they aren’t. In my experience, it’s usually it’s a mix of both. It doesn’t hurt to reflect on the things we may have done (or not done) that could have contributed to our shortcomings. Once we identify what those variables are, we can take responsibility for them. Once we take responsibility for them, we can start taking the necessary actions to make sure we don’t continue to make those same mistakes in the future.
2. Use past setbacks as motivation.
While it’s probably valuable to reflect on our failures, I don’t think it’s beneficial to replay them in our heads over and over again, beating ourselves up over the mistakes we made.
“I should have hit that foul shot.”
“I shouldn’t have called that play at the end of the game.”
“I should’ve followed that weight training program.”
It’s only really a mistake if we do the wrong thing a second time after we know it’s wrong, so don’t crush yourself with guilt. Use the past pain you experienced to propel you forward to create a different outcome in the future.
3. Fail on purpose.
Well, don't purposely fail but the more we can expose ourselves to adversity, the better we become at handling it. A good way we can use this to our advantage is by voluntarily putting ourselves in situations where we will face adversity and situations where failure is a probability. That could mean practicing with players who are older and stronger than we are. It could mean setting high standards for ourselves when we are practicing alone. For example, setting a goal of making 40 out of 50 three-point shots and not leaving the gym until it’s done. It could mean pushing ourselves to failure in the weight room, so our body is better equipped to handle physical stress on the court. By exposing ourselves to adverse conditions today, tough situations we face in the future may seem easier by comparison. So don’t be afraid to fail, and be thankful for the adversity in your life. It can only make you stronger.
This post was written by Right Way coach, Sean Stoqua, who currently plays for the University of Ottawa Gee Gees Men's Varsity Basketball Team and is currently completing his Master's in Physiotherapy Degree.