Beyond Athletics News Worthy

How to Find Lessons In Losing A Game

(Serena at the 2013 U.S. Open.

(Serena at the 2013 U.S. Open. Flickr – Boss Tweed)

Whether your team is projected to bring home the “W” every game of the season, or not expected to win a single outing, one thing’s for certain: losing never feels good. It can simply sting, it can feel devastating, or the disappointment can range somewhere in between the two.

And we’ve all seen our fair-share of both gracious losers and those who fall, well, on the “sore” side.

As the U.S. Open 2015 wrapped up last weekend, the subject has been on the forefront of the minds of sports fans across the country. In one of the biggest upsets in not just women’s, but really all of tennis history, Serena Williams’s run came to an end in the semifinals, which also ended her shot at the Grand Slam title this season, (winning all 4 major tournaments in the calendar year – she already won three of the four leading up to the US Open).

The response to how Serena handled the defeat has been mixed.

Some say Serena accepted the upset with eloquence and grace. Others still feel that Serena could use some work when it comes to humility and losing admirably.

No matter where you stand on the issue, Serena’s recent fall from the throne offers each of us the opportunity to reflect on how we handle the losses that come along with being a student-athlete.

Find lessons in losing.

Zig Ziglar, American author, businessman, and motivational speaker once said; “If you learn from defeat, than you haven’t really lost.”

Now, maybe in the heat of the moment, or the minutes directly following a hard fought game, this message is tough to understand, or it seems too out there to you.

I understand that.

But once the moment has passed, and there’s time to look back on what happened, I think you will find we learn a lot more about ourselves, and about how to get better, in times of disappointment and struggle rather than in triumph.

Find some time to reflect on your loss. Whether it be technically, through watching film of the match or game, or just looking inside yourself, digging into how you were feeling throughout the contest. There is a silver lining, and it’s the lessons that lie in defeat.

Find motivation from the loss.

Let your loss motivate you for the next competition.

There actually may not be a better motivator out there. Coming back stronger, faster, better has just been ingrained in you.

A natural fire has been lit.

Let it carry you through your week of practice! Let it erupt in your next game! Do it for everyone who’s now saying you can’t. Or you won’t.

Better yet, do if for everyone who has your back. Who’s encouraged you through your disappoint.

Best yet, do it for yourself.

Acknowledge the winner.

This is where the whole “losing graciously” thing comes into play.

It’s important. And it can be hard. But the way you carry yourself after a loss speaks volumes about your character.

Finding it inside yourself to congratulate the winner, no matter the circumstance, and move on with class and dignity will not be easy, but you will be so happy that’s the road you chose.


After every game — whether it ends in victory or defeat — we’re here to help you win in recruiting. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.