Nobody likes to lose and everyone deals with losing in a different manner. Some get angry while others show no emotions. I never understood the second one, showing no emotions. I never understood how you could lose a game and still be bouncing and full of energy, where was that energy during the game? But as I mentioned, everyone deals with losing differently.
For myself, I am one of the most competitive people you will ever meet, I absolutely hate losing. I take losing to heart and after a loss I always ask myself what I could have done differently to be on the other side, the winning side. When I was younger it was always the same after a loss, I spoke to no one. My dad always knew how to handle me if we lost or if I played poorly. It was always a silent car ride home where he would give me time to gather my thoughts and emotions. I would get home and shower, followed by dinner where we would finally talk about it. My dad was very knowledgable about the game (he coached me for a long part of my life) and we would both give our opinions on the game and figure out solutions for a better result. We would break down the game as a team and individually. For me, it was comforting to have someone who understands the game to talk to.
As a coach dealing with a loss can be difficult. You are full of emotions and you quickly want to release those emotions. It’s important not to yell and scream at your players for losing. What this does is puts a lasting memory of their coach acting like a wild animal into their brain. The next time they have a game they will be scared to lose, they will be scared to make mistakes and mentally, they are tarnished. Not only are you their coach but you are their mentor, someone they should look up to and to teach them about growing up; learning how to lose is apart of growing up.
Every good coach can take a loss and dissect it into both positives and negatives. During your games take notes and write down both the positive and negative things you see during a match. After the game in your post-match discussion reiterate that it was a tough loss but that there were some positives to take from the game. Briefly go over those positives and end the discussion by saying your excited to work on your mistakes from the game and to improve as a team. “Be ready to come to practice to learn and fix our mistakes!”
Do not call out certain players mistakes and point fingers as reasons for a loss. I’ve seen it with coaches and I’ve seen it with parents. What you are doing is absolutely crushing their confidence and putting fear in them. Fear is not the answer, a coach is not a dictator position. Instead, allow your players to soak in the loss. At your next practice go over some of the mistakes (without using names) and base your practice around those mistakes. Design drills to work on the issues you had in your last game.
Even though I hate losing I am not a sore loser, I always show the winning team respect. Always, always shake the opposing teams hand and congratulate them on their win. As the coach make sure you shake the opposing teams coaches hand as well. There are times in sports where things can get heated and words can get exchanged but at the end of the day we are all human; that’s the beauty in sports. This is where you show your character and let down your guard and lead by example. There are times where you get a lot more out of a loss than you do from a win. Being able to take a negative and turn it into a positive is the difference between being a good coach and being a great coach. Be Great!