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How to Handle Losing

Advice for Beginner Basketball Coaches


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Losing is a difficult thing for everyone to deal with and can become worse if it is handled in the wrong way. I don’t believe there is ever a good time to lose, but I do believe there is such thing as a productive loss. There are times when it takes a loss to get the attention of your players. Too often players and teams don’t believe they are doing anything wrong until they lose. A loss can only be productive if you handle it with the correct mind-set and think of it as an opportunity rather than a dilemma. There are a few things you can do to help you use a loss to help your team. 
Evaluate yourself first
Good coaches evaluate themselves after every game, but especially after a loss. It’s easy to point at a play or a player and say that is what cost you the game, but rarely is that the case. The truth is, whatever you felt cost you the game probably has been present for a while but you don’t recognize it as much in a win as you do in a loss. You need to look back at previous practices leading up to the game, as well pre-game and in-game decisions you made in order to help you address the problem. The evaluation of players should be a constant throughout the year, but so should a self-evaluation of your own performance. A coach that doesn’t evaluate themselves is losing out on an opportunity to become a better coach and as a result hindering the progression of their team.                                  
Never blame the referees
I've coached and seen a lot of games at every level and rarely do the referees have any effect on the outcome of a game. They sometimes make things a little more difficult but they don't decide games. Blaming referees is an easy way out for a coach but it is just making things difficult for you in the future. First, it sends a bad message to your players that they didn’t do anything wrong. As a result, it will hamper the improvement of your players because they will become complacent. If you have made it a habit to blame others for what is going wrong, don’t be surprised when your players and parents start blaming you. Finally, I’m sure you will have the same referees in most of your games so complaining to them or about them is not good for the present or the future.   Referees make bad calls and it may seem that most of them are going against your team, but a good coach should never blame them for a loss, especially in front of your players.        
The 24-hour rule
The 24-hour rule applies right after every game regardless of a win or a loss. You have 24-hours to enjoy a win or think about a loss and then forget about it.   Learn from the good things that happened as well as the bad and then move on and focus on getting better during the next practice or game. Enjoying a win too much or reflecting on a loss for too long can lead to a lack of motivation to get better and can quickly result in poor play. It can make winning teams start a losing streak and a losing team to continue a losing streak. As much as coaches don’t want to admit it, some wins are bigger than others, but the coach needs to be the one that keeps everyone focused after a win or a loss.