Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Many situations, especially in sports call for "must win" feelings and situations. However, if you are on the receiving end of a final moment loss or things didn't go your way, there’s often a sting felt. Here are some helpful tips to change your results for yourself and your team that will help you position yourself and your team positively for the best outcome.
"A MUST WIN"
A - Attitude: Show up to win. Don't make the mistake of discounting any competitor or team, ever. So often teams arrive and think "They have a losing record, so this will be easy." or "We usually win when we play them." or "We won't win this game. They are unbeaten." So much happens when you show up individually and collectively as a team with a open mindset approach and winning attitude. Prepare your mindset and maintain it.
Colorado Rockies AA Hitting Coach, Tom Sutaris adds, "Losing should be very painful if you have given every bit of yourself in preparation and in competition. You can also hold your head high knowing you gave it everything you had. Great athletes and teams hold themselves to a standard of excellence. Anything less than that standard is unacceptable."
M - Mindset, Mental Endurance & Momentum: You, the team, or the game is moving along. Keep your energy and mindset focused. There are often lulls. The lull is energy drop. Assign a few members of the team to be focused on this. Snack if needed. Fuel. If losing, shift thinking to one play or run at a time. Pause for the regroup in mindset and energy.
If you or your team is on the road, bring healthy food. A team fueled by fast food is high in carbs, sugar, fat and lacks nutrition to sustain / endurance both physically and mentally.
U - Unbreakable/Unshakeable: These are great mindset words to anchor you or your team team in their power. Ground thinking with visualization in winning moments. Talk. Assign each person on your team a power word.
S - Slow down: Slow yourself or the game down. Focus on Mental Endurance. Teach your players to pause and think about the next play or pitch until the game is won, instead of rushing ahead and throwing strategy out the door.
"I believe great athletes and teams have the ability to be present and engaged in each individual play. They don't let previous plays or potential outcomes affect their ability to be 100% invested in the current moment," says Coach Sutaris.
T - Trust: Trust your players. Rotate and cross train. Trust. Focus on positive versus being critical. The job is to develop people not break people down. Rule of 3. Each player knows their position and 2 others. ( one well and one in a pinch)
For example, in baseball specifically, your pitchers can be an "extra bench coach" as they can provide insights to your hitters, because they can identify the pitches. Pitchers can also help teach the hitters on your team to hit better, for example, if someone has trouble hitting a curveball. Work with a pitcher who throws curveballs to improve the hitting abilities. This builds team trust and camaraderie.
W - Willpower: The sheer will to win often bests talent. What is the goal and reason for the season?
Professional Baseball Trailblazer and consultant, Coach Joe Sperle says, "An elite athlete can perform and thrive under stress and mental pressure and rise above their competition to be a winner. These mental traits in competition separate the winners and which athletes excel to the top of their sport."
I - Ingenuity: Solid Fundamentals + Strategy
Never assume your players come knowing fundamentals. Teach situations and teach old school fundamentals. Bring in an "established in the sport" person to help with strategy. In baseball for example, this could be as simple as learning how to hold a bat properly to bunt, or setting a goal to never be picked off at 2nd base to providing rewards for not stranding runners. Set the bar high with strong fundamentals in place.
A common scenario in baseball is being the last out. So prepare your players for this mentally. Change the tape that plays in their mind when there are runners on, 2 outs. Often, the batter has a tape playing in their mind of “Don’t let me be the last out,” instead of “I’ve got this with ease!"
There are various scenarios where the outcome of the game is determined by one play. Coach your team to be mentally prepared for these moments.
"A successful athlete has a positive attitude and starts a game or event with a mindset they are going to win. When behind, they persevere and push themselves to surpass their competition all the way to the end of the game or event. The "never quit until the game or event ends attitude. " says Coach Sperle.
If the game does get away from you, pause and regroup for strategy and mindset fix.
N - No: As in stop. As in stop spending energy on the wrong things. For example, There is a fine line between being too quiet and not talking it out or to each other and being too loud. So, consider this: If your team is super loud in the dugout, or sidelines, understand, that’s valuable energy perhaps being wasted. Focus inward. Loud dugout or sidelines waste energy.
Teams often have a mix of wins and losses. For example, a few wins and a streak of losses. Some have a string of wins and some losses that could have been wins. In some sports, a few of yet have yet to lose a game.
REMEMBER: When you think that’s impossible, it’s only impossible if you think it is.
Above all, remember, everything happening off the field, including mental anxiety, comes with you to the game, the field and more and is often amplified. Do a mindset clearing exercise to focus before each game. Clear the energy to win.
Keep the team focused. Have the goal that is visible to all where each member of your team signs off daily so everyone can stay focused on their role and visualize success. Everyone has to consistently perform their role to function as a team.
Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino is the founder of The Best Ever You Network and co-founder of Compliance4. Through these companies, she has helped individuals and organizations around the world be their best and achieve world-class excellence with gratitude-based behavior and belief systems. She is one of America's foremost personal and corporate development consultants specializing in mindset, strategy, leadership, and taking action.
Elizabeth is also the author of the award-winning, bestselling personal development books: The Change Guidebook - How to Align Your Heart, Truths, and Energy to Find Success in All Areas of Your Life and PERCOLATE - Let Your Best Self Filter Through.