Losing v Learning

“As a tennis player, you have to get used to losing every week. Unless you win the tournament, you always go home as a loser. But you have to take the positive out of a defeat and go back to work. Improve to fail better.” – Stan Wawrinka

Tennis is an interesting sport where when you play a tournament you stand a great chance of losing. For example in the US Open, on each side of the tournament, both men’s and women’s, 128 players enter each draw. Of those, only one wins the tournament. That means out of the 128 that enter, 127 end up losing at some point. Don’t get me wrong, losing stinks. It absolutely does. But it is what you do with that loss that matters overall.

When losing at anything it is always a good idea to take a little time to allow the sting of the loss to run it’s course, then once that has happened, start to evaluate the game/loss. Ask yourself the following questions:

What did I do well? This one helps reinforce positivity in the brain. By reflecting on what you did well it helps you to understand that the loss was not a total failure but simply some parts that caused the issues.

What did I do poorly? By evaluating your game and seeing the parts where you had issue helps to determine what steps you need to take to become a better player. It is important to remember that there are many facets of the game of tennis that can effect an outcome of a match. Missing shots is only part of the equation to playing tennis. Stamina, footwork and decision making are all parts that could be considered too.

What is the next major thing I need to work on to get better? Once you have evaluated your game and determined what you need to work on overall, it is a good idea to figure out what the first major part needs to be addressed. You may have missed many backhands during your match but what was the root cause? Was it really the backhands or was it poor footwork on the backhand side? Were you just getting tired and not able to get into the best position to hit the ball there? This may be one to discuss with your coach as well.

WIN, What’s Important Now? As with anything in life, “What’s Important Now” will help you determine a great many things. Driving to work and you need gas. Can it wait until after work or do I need to get it now? Have a few projects with deadlines coming up? Which one do I need to do first. What’s Important Now will help you determine what to do next. In tennis it can help you determine what you need to work on next or during a match, how to win the point/game/match. If you are down 15-40 and you are serving, what is important in this moment? Do you need to go all out on the serve or should you play a lightly more conservative serve, get it in and play it out in a rally? If you are Andy Roddick I would think to go all out in the serve. If not, play it out. Remember, What’s Important Now!