Failure. Many people think of failure as something to be avoided at all costs (unless we are referring to some opponent we just beat, but that’s another story.) The problem is that failure is an inherent part of both sport and life. In any game or competition, there is going to be a winner, and there is going to be a loser. So why, as athletes and as people, are we so scared of this when it is so common to fail?

Jim Taylor recently visited and had a discussion with us on this very topic. It got me thinking about my own athletic and personal experience. My athletic background is in volleyball. Not to say that failure isn’t a part of other sports, but there are so many opportunities to fail throughout a volleyball match. One team has to reach 25 points before the other, and someone has to screw up in order for each point to be scored. Whether that is a defender being unable to dig a ball or a hitter spiking the ball out of bounds, someone has to mess up.

So, how do we deal with this? The important part is learning how to work through and overcome failure. It isn’t realistic to say that we are never going to fail again, so what are some strategies to take failure and turn it into a learning experience? Change the way failure is viewed. Instead of feeling embarrassed or thinking people will be disappointed, look at failure as an opportunity to learn what didn’t work and how to do better next time. Reflection is an important tool to use to recognize the aspects that may have contributed to failure (after the game, not during!)

Once those pieces are figured out, move on. The past is in the past, and it can’t be changed. Time spent dwelling on it is just a waste of energy (and a lot of us don’t have much of that to spare.) If you gave it everything you have, that is all anyone can ask for.

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