This article is republished with permission from Peak Sports. The original article appears at How to Cope With Mistakes Like This Pro.
Every athlete makes mistakes… It’s part of sports.
Think of how many times you have seen an elite figure skater trip over their own skate, under-rotate on an easy jump, or forget their program?
Or a veteran baseball player get caught taking a fastball right over the plate with the bases loaded, get picked off at first base, or forget how many outs there were in the middle of an inning?
Or an NBA player throw a ball in the stands on an easy pass, miss a dunk, or step out of bounds accidentally?
Every baseball player has committed an error… Every basketball player has turned the ball over.
You are not alone in making mistakes… and just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you cannot be successful in another part of your game.
Take the following examples as evidence…
James Harden of the Houston Rockets has been tearing up the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.2 points per game… also averages 5.5 turnovers per game.
Catcher Yadier Molina who has earned nine MLB Gold Glove awards… also has allowed 82 passed balls in his career.
Nashville Predator goaltender Pekka Rinne won the 2017-18 Vezina trophy for best goaltender in the NHL but also gave up 17 goals in a four-game span in January of 2019.
The thing that separates top athletes from the rest of the pack is that top athletes don’t allow mistakes to take them out of the game mentally.
Top athletes are able to rebound quickly when competing.
Top athletes don’t relive their mistakes over and over.
Top athletes don’t verbally berate themselves.
Top athletes don’t focus on what has been done but what they can do now.
Let’s refer back to James Harden of the Houston Rockets and his view on making mistakes.
In a game where the Rockets almost gave away a game to the Toronto Raptors, the Rockets were able to overcome some mistakes and pull out a narrow 121-119 victory.
Houston allowed the Raptors back in the game after having an 11 point lead with 1:14 left in the game.
After the game, Harden talked about the team’s ability to overcome mistakes and get the win.
HARDEN: “Everyone is going to make mistakes, but your energy and your effort makes up for those mistakes. Tonight, I’m sure we made a lot of mistakes, but the way we rotated and boxed out and guarded the basketball made up for a lot of them.”
It’s true… Every athlete makes mistakes.
The sooner you can accept that fact, you can learn to refocus after a mistake instead of dwelling on the mistake.
The mental skill of refocusing will allow you to concentrate, rebound more quickly, and contribute to the next play.
Letting Go of Mistakes During Competition:
Develop a refocusing cue.
A refocusing cue is something that moves your attention away from the mistake and helps you focus on performing your best in the moment.
A refocusing cue can be as simple as a phrase, such as, “It’s in the past,” or fixing your equipment.
Try this for refocusing:
-Let it go.
-Focus on the next play.
-No one’s perfect. Move on.
-Only the next play matters.
With a refocusing statement in place, you will be more prepared to move past mistakes in competition.
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If you’re a top performer during practice but find yourself under-performing in competition, the most likely culprit holding you back is your mental game. In fact, many athletes struggle with the same problem….
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Improve Concentration in Sports!
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Concentration and the ability to focus under adversity is what championship athletes do best.
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What are customers saying about our mental game programs?
“As a result of reading and implementing ‘The Confident Athlete Series,’ I am once again enjoying golf and letting bad shots roll off my shoulders and appreciating my good shots without attaching expectations. Thanks Dr. Cohn!”
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“Your response to the throwing problem in front of the coach covers so many situations in life…that is the beauty of playing sports…the life learning experiences. Keep up the good work…you are the best mental coach.”
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