Saturday, June 25, 2022

Learning to lose with dignity… when ‘less is more’



Let’s set up the usual scenario: We have a weekly CTA/USTA league match and many of the spouses and coaches are observing the contest. Most of the time, the fans are relaxed and they are able to enjoy the action and cheer for both teams. No doubt, all of the players are heavily invested in their performances and want to win the game and losing a big match can be traumatic for most competitors. Therefore, when one of the teams loses the contest, when is it appropriate to talk about the match?

From a coach’s standpoint (years of experience which includes a few failures along the way) I’ve adopted the “less is more” philosophy. The challenger needs space; the player might need to vent or just walk away from the stress and relax. The last thing the player should hear is the analysis of the match and what they did NOT do. If by chance I run into one of my losing players, I only offer encouragement and let them know that I was proud of their effort. Remember, even if the player has a great attitude and would like to listen to criticism, it is not the right time. It is important for the performer to decompress and be in the right state of mind so they can learn from the situation.

Recently, one of my eager and enthusiastic teams inquired about dealing with failure and wanted to have a little more information about this particular subject and I ran

If your player is down or upset, do not engage.

If your player is down or upset, do not engage.

across this quote: “Failures are part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn you’ll never change.” What is most compelling about this quote is that it is only effective when the person has acknowledged the problem and is in the right frame of mind to be able to change.

On the subject of losing with class, I always point out two of the greatest legends of tennis: Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. The great irony is that these two tennis icons figured it out long ago. Both women exhibited grace on and off the tennis court.

Often during the post-match press conference, either Chris or Martina would enthusiastically praise the other’s performance after a gut-wrenching defeat. Conversely, in my opinion, Serena Williams has not embraced the Evert-Navratilova viewpoint after a heartbreaking loss. Thus far in her career, she spends too much time focusing on her mistakes and little time praising her opponent. Our top four ATP men: Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal always compliment their competitors and usually in glowing fashion. Mature human beings, especially those who are so comfortable in their own skin, say positive and encouraging words about others. Every tennis player must embrace failure; it is vital to hold your head high and prepare for another day.

Events coming up – – Island Club mixed doubles classic returns the weekend of March 22nd.  If you would like to enter this super event, please call tournament director Rick Calton and his fine staff at 239-394-4464.


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