Losing – Part 3: The Day After

Gameday has come and gone and now you have a larger number in the loss column. But it is time to move on. Nothing wrong with letting the loss hurt last night, but today is a new day. Today we focus on what we need for tomorrow. The good news is you just learned what you need to work on.

The loss is over

Did you ever do something wrong and then someone is right there to constantly remind you what you did wrong. Like one week you forgot to take the trash out to the curb, everyday there is the nagging reminder of the overflowing trash or the ever present spouse reminding you that because of your lapse, we are now swimming in overflowing trash. None of those reminders are needed or feel good. You know what you did wrong, its time to move on.

Same goes for the “L” you just took. The Team is in this together and a constant reminder of our faults is not going to help the situation. The Team knows the outcome was not what we want or expect, let’s leave it at that. Instead of reminding, let’s turn it into refueling.


I like to spend time personally reflecting and reviewing gametape after a loss. It is amazing to me how gametape, similar to statistics, you really can manipulate to tell your story. One of my greatest fears after a loss is the team will begin to doubt their abilities to win games and accept losing even if it means not attaining our goals we set out to accomplish. By going to the tape you may be able to disprove this idea, and remind them the season isn’t lost. I look back at a series of events that occur before our competitors scored a goal. Typically you can point to a missed pass or a contested/missed ground ball that led to the possession that led to the other teams goal. If your team can clean up these items, there is no reason they couldn’t take 4-5 goals off the board. This can be motivating and refueling for a team that thought they couldn’t hang. But in reality its just a few fixes and more focus on making the most basic, fundamental plays.

Simple Possession chart in Excel*

This is what led to my interest in our managers keeping a possession chart. I would ask the managers to identify how each one of our possessions ended. Ideally each possession should end in a shot (not all shots are created equal but better than a T/O in open field). I would sum up the totals looking for possessions that ended in self inflicted T/O, caused T/O by the other team, and shots. The managers would give a quick summary of what happened and I’d put it into those three buckets. They also had player numbers in there so if I saw a pattern on someone throwing it away I can focus in on that with them. This info by itself isn’t great, but the goal would be to see a decline in self inflicted TO’s. If not your practice should adjust to accommodate.

*Also its a great chart to give you an idea about how many possessions you get in a quarter/half/game in order to plan your timeouts and gameday strategies

Practice your weakness

As we just discussed the tape gives you the information you need. While we have moved on from a loss and we aren’t going to rehash old wounds, we will learn from it and practice accordingly. Looking through the tape you should be able to pull 2-3 key elements you can work on. If you shoot for more, you most likely won’t cover them all. Pick the most glaring that lead to the other teams success and focus on drilling them for half of the next practice.

To drive home the need to be successful in your practice of these weaknesses, turn it into a competition. Make sure the team is competing for points that have associated rewards. Gameday is stressful and there are fears of making mistakes. If you can replicate this in practice, then you will truly get better. I liken this to the gym. If a player goes into the gym and lifts 10 lbs every day, they will be good at lifting 10 lbs and will never get better. Each time or few times you should increase weight and soon you will be lifting 50lbs. If we stress our bodies and do something harder than the day before, you will get better.

This completes the “Losing” series. Ensure that every loss is handled as a TEAM, and it is a learning experience to advance towards your post-season goals. Hopefully you don’t need to revisit this series again, but it will be here and good luck!

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