Learning to handle defeat

When you don't win, remember how to manage your emotions.

When you don't win, remember how to manage your emotions.

You don't need a high-end racing swimsuit or a world class training facility to be a successful competitive swimmer. However, you will need to learn how to manage your defeats and disappointments. As the saying goes, winning is easy, but losing is the hardest part. 

To help you get through the times when you don't reach the wall first, we offer the following suggestions: 

  • Don't get lost in your feelings - After an unsuccessful meet, you may be tempted to criticize every moment of your race and tell yourself negative things. Focusing on failing will only leave you discouraged and with little motivation to improve.
  • Learn how to improve – It's natural to be upset, but that time spent seething could be better used reviewing race videos, consulting with your coach and figuring out what your opponents did well rather than what you did wrong. 
  • Look at more than the race - The reason that you didn't place first or make the time that you wanted has as much to do with your time in the pool as your time on dry ground. You should keep a record of what you ate and the activities you performed in the days and hours leading up to the meet. 
  • Realize that no one likes losing - It's hard to find a serious athlete who likes to lose. While it may be hard to keep your emotions in check, it's important to remember that there were other people who also didn't place first. A loss is not a personal slight.