No matter how good you are, you’re still going to rack up losses.
Everyone that plays tennis loses.
In fact – some of the biggest losers in history are some of the best.
Reggie Jackson, MLB Hall of Famer appropriately nicknamed Mr. October, has the most career strikeouts in history.
Martin Brodeur, the winningest goalie in NHL history, also has the most losses.
This happens in tennis, too! Chris Evert reached 34 Grand Slam singles finals, winning 18 and losing the other 16. Those 16 losses are the most grand slam finals losses in history!
Some of the best players in history are also some of the biggest losers.
Losing is a part of learning how to win.
The pros know how to lose, and we can benefit greatly from their knowledge. So let’s take a look at how to lose like a pro!
Play Against Better Players
Playing against better players does two things: it causes you to get better.
And it makes you lose.
In this case, seeking out better players to maximize your own development is the reason for your losses.
While each individual loss may not feel great, collecting all those lessons and experiences is tremendous. Pros know that it’s well worth a few Ls here and there to face competition that makes them better.
Athletes come with a bevy of different skills associated with their sport.
Some skills are fundamental to the game. Serving. Pivoting. Accuracy.
These take a long time to work and hone.
When an athlete decides to learn a new technique or improve a fundamental skill, they have to take their game apart before they can put it together.
During this time, they’re going to lose a ton more often.
But only in the short term. With time, the player’s foundation of the game improves as these new skills become ambiguous from the old.
Ruts and Streaks
It’s almost impossible to play at the same level every match.
We’re human. We dip and pop back up. We play well beyond ourselves once before leveling back out.
If we zoom in on one of these poor streaks, we will get a dishonest and discouraging picture.
Take a baseball team’s season. They play 162 games in a season. Even if that team is 81-81 at the end of the year for a .500 winning percentage, they’ll likely have several streaks where they win or lose 3 or more games in a row.
This team likely was one of the toughest teams to face during certain stretches of the season while being one of the weakest at some other point.
And that’s all in the course of a completely average season.
Watch Yourself Without Shame
Looking back at a loss can feel pretty bad. It only gets worse if it’s a loss we think we ‘threw’ away.
While that negative emotion is expected, we need to keep it in that box.
Pros that look back at their losses, either on video or mentally, do so with an investigator’s laser focus.
They’re not looking for how they messed up just to feel bad. Instead, they’re looking at whatever lessons are hidden below the surface.
It’s not uncommon for pros to watch a point they actually win and still see mistakes and errors. Odds are they’re not watching that point as if they actually won it.
If you try to do this with shame, you won’t have the analytic look needed to watch yourself without biases.
The thing the pros know about losses is that they are necessary for wins.
You can’t learn without losing now and then.
While pros hate to lose, they know they’ll lose twice if they don’t take the lessons right in front of them.
Take that advice to heart, and you can learn to lose like a winner, too!
Kalindi Dinoffer is trained in multiple aspects of mindfulness in life and in sports, sharing on her blog MindfulKalindi.com. She is also certified to teach yoga, fitness, reiki, and MFR. Kalindi also serves as VP marketing at OnCourtOffCourt.com, a leading supplier of tennis, pickleball, fitness and yoga training aids and equipment and has been published in Tennis industry Magazine and Pickleball Magazine, and has conducted workshops at conferences around the world. In her spare time, Kalindi plays tennis, pickleball and table tennis and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and biking and cross country skiing in the winter.