Managing loss is one of the more important skills a champion must learn. Let’s face it, everyone loses. That includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and all the rest. They have all learned how to manage losses over their career.
The healthy champion knows how to digest loss and not let it cause damage on the inside. The champion must somehow learn that they are bigger than the loss. The loss does not define who they are. Problems occur when the loss begins to shake one’s confidence and urges the player to make inappropriate and unnecessary changes in their stroke, or worst yet, to quit playing. Losing causes damage when it begins to produce doubt in the player’s mind, and that can lead to a slump.
To manage loss, you need a way to ventilate the feelings you have about it. You can use a coach, parent or a sports psychologist. Find someone who you trust and let yourself air out all your feelings about the loss. This will allow you to see the truth about who you are. Talking it out allows you to work through the shame, sadness and disappointment that is an inevitable part of all sports. Talking it out will help you get back normal.
Loss is a part of tennis just as it is a part of life. You need to accept it as part of the game and then you will be able to carry on with your chin up.
Dr. Tom Ferraro
For consultations, treatment or on-site visits, contact Dr. Tom Ferraro Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, by phone at (516) 248-7189, e-mail DrTFerraro@aol.com or visit DrTomFerraro.com.