Learning from Defeat
    We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.  Romans 5 : 3-4

    I have a clipping in which Jerry Glanville was quoted, from an interview following a pounding he took when coach of the Houston Oilers.  Having lost by more than 40 points, he was asked what his team had learned from the game.  He quickly responded, "You don't learn (any) thing from a loss like this!"  I lost all respect for him that day.  Any coach who cannot find a bucketful of lessons in a trouncing isn't really paying attention. 

    On a completely different scale, I had a Junior High team once that had a very difficult season.  We had only 11 girls, none of whom had much experience playing basketball, all of whom were seriously outmanned by every team on our schedule.  We lost our first 11 games, many by horrendous scores.  I could easily have become demoralized and simply gone "through the motions" in practices and games. 

    The team would not let me do that.  After every defeat, the girls patiently waited in the locker room, and sincerely inquired, "What do we need to do to get better?"  Every practice, we worked to sharpen the skills that had resulted in our most recent loss.  I encouraged them to have hope that if they improved every day, we'd eventually be able to win. 

    Along the way, one team gave us an especially bad beating.  With a 19-point lead and one-and-a-half minutes remaining, they still had 3 starters in the game, Pressing us full court, with 3 girls on the bench who had never gotten to take their warm-ups off.  The girls and I were exceptionally aggravated, and used the bad feelings from that game as further motivation to improve.  We did not want to have that same experience again.  After our 0-11 start, we faced this same team again, and found a way to defeat them on their home court.  To improve the savor of that success, we found ourselves playing that same team in our league tournament, and once again managed a win. 

    Had we ignored the lessons we learned in our first 11 defeats, we would not have been able to walk away from the season with any sense of accomplishment.  By learning something new every day, we managed to win 3 of our last 5 games, and exit the season with a sense of true success.

    It is amazing how hard we fight against having any adversity, as though we fear that we cannot overcome it.  This verse tells us the value of adversity.  It is our adversity which teaches us the patience we need to persevere in times of trial.  Our ability to be patient and work through our difficulties gives us a variety of experiences, from which we can take hope that anything is possible.  We should, therefore, embrace our adversity for the lessons it teaches us, which make us stronger.  By paying close attention to why we lost, how our players reacted to game situations, and how they responded emotionally to the defeat, we can learn a great deal about our team, and how to prevent future thrashings.

Questions for Reflection:
~Have I ever given up on my team or myself when times have been tough ?
~~What have I learned from my losses?
~~~How do I feel about the often-used quote, "You gotta believe"?
~~~~What stories of great comebacks am I aware of ?  What lessons can I learn from them about the approach to take when adversity comes ?

e-mail me: CoachWoody@misterwoodynotebook.us

Return to the Main Page.