How Not to Freak Out When You Analyze a Bad Performance
In every event we do, we go with absolute dedication to do our best, have a great result, and meet all our goals. But there are the times when it all goes south. Things happen that are out of our control, or we simply miss the mark that day. Maybe it was even something that was in our control, but we just made a lot of mistakes. We’ve all had them — those events when we just don’t meet our mark.
We all know this is a part of sport. It happens. Those bad days are the ones where we learn and grow. Most of the time, we handle them right and move on, but sometimes we get pissed as hell. Sometimes we let them destroy us for a period of time. Nobody’s a perfect human being, and this is all normal stuff that happens in an athlete’s journey.
Do you ever notice that when these bad days happen, the people around you usually react one of two ways? They either avoid you like you just acquired a new disease that is highly contagious, or they suddenly have the most expert advice about the 10 million things you should be doing differently or could do differently to avoid being such a complete screw-up.
The reality is that in most cases, it isn’t that complicated, nor is it typically a huge list of things that went south. In most cases, it’s one or two simple things that need refining.The single biggest mistake I see athletes make after poor performances is going home and looking at too many different things that may have led to the performance, taking advice from too many different sources, and changing too many different things.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” If you have a bad day, remember that it’s a normal part of athlete development. It’s okay to get emotional because it’s a standard reaction when something you care about doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. Give yourself the time to express and feel those emotions. Do not start evaluating every piece of your training and execution in this period. Give yourself the freedom to absorb these feelings.
Once you are home and settled down and you’ve had some space from the result, go ahead and debrief through the event, either with one person you trust (like your coach) or on your own if you have no one. I suggest writing things out, asking yourself direct, specific and applicable questions. Develop an event debrief question list you can use every time you compete, whether the result is good or poor. This allows you to compare results and see any mistakes or patterns that are associated with the performances.
After you’ve had time to grieve, evaluate objectively what might have gone wrong. Then it’s time to move on and get back to work. Don’t waste energy or time continuing to dwell and search for unnecessary advice to change every little thing that isn’t relevant.
Bad days are going to happen. They’re a part of the game. You can let them crush you and send you backwards for months, or you can learn from them, go home and work on one thing at a time to overcome them and come out swinging next time. Have a system in place you use all through your competition season and you’ll continue to grow and get better.