Here’s a way to compete the next time you’re outmatched by your opponent.
How to keep fighting in spite of the score.
Competing in a game you’re blown out of is hard, so reframe the outcome by winning innings, when winning the game might be out of reach.
Recently, our UCR team ran into a juggernaut called UCLA. This is the strongest team they’ve had in years and while we’re putting in great work here at UCR, we aren’t in the same stratosphere as UCLA. Not yet.
In full transparency, we had one of the toughest innings I’ve ever had in softball. UCLA scored 16 runs in a 46 minute first inning. Our pitchers were faced with an extremely rough situation and could have hung their heads and complained, but instead, they kept battling with their heads high. Because of the scoreboard, I was VERY proud of them.
And yet that’s not my point. My point in this article is how to coach a team through a game like that, that you can’t realistically win, and yet you want to keep your team fighting and battling. The way we did it was to play the “innings game”. Sure, we lost the first inning, but could we try and win the 2nd inning? The answer was yes – we did win the 2nd inning. And we went on to win the 4th inning as well. And while the Bruins won the game in 5 innings, we were able to chip away at some smaller games within the game that we could do something about.
If you coach this game long enough you’re going to be on both ends of that type of game, so find ways to keep your team fighting and clawing and holding their heads high. As a side note – you’ve got to hold yours high as well. Sure, nobody’s goal is to get their heads handed to them, but hold your head high and show your players how to take a loss with class just as you would take a win!
I was proud of how our UCR team handled themselves that day, on a field against a mighty Bruin squad that was ferocious and classy in their victory.
For more help managing your team’s mental game, check out: