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Championship Teams React to a Loss


coping with soccer mistakes

How are you affected by losses? Do you look for someone to blame? 

Is your tendency to be harsh on yourself for mistakes and see yourself as the reason for the loss? Nothing hurts a soccer team more than finger-pointing and self-blaming.

A coach from our Mental Game of Soccer Survey asked:

“How can I keep my team motivated after a loss and keep playing as a team?”

Everyone knows blaming others breaks apart a team but players blaming themselves also hurts the team’s overall performance.

Just because you failed to clear the ball, missed a penalty kick, or just didn’t play to your usual standard doesn’t mean you lost the game for your team. 

A soccer match is 90 minutes, and the outcome is not decided by one play or by one player.

A team loss is just that, a TEAM loss.

Players must play as a cohesive unit for a team to succeed. A cohesive team feels connected and driven to achieve a common goal. 

When one player is down, their teammates lift that player up. 

Successful teams learn from losses and support each other throughout the ups and downs of the season.

The motto of a championship team is “we” over “me.” This “unified” team mentality builds confidence in one another and the team’s overall play.  

Rutgers women’s soccer (9-1-0) suffered its first loss of the collegiate season against Penn State University (6-1-2). The 2-0 loss snapped Rutgers’s 20-match regular season winning streak.

Rutgers head coach Mike O’Neill has focused on two main points throughout the season: play together and learn together.

O’NEILL: “Credit to Penn State, they’re a good team, and these are the games you learn the most from. The most important thing is we stick together and learn everything we can from this game.”

Pointing the finger at a teammate or yourself divides a team, erodes trust, and leads to dysfunction.

Successful teams become closer and stronger after a loss.

Successful teams identify what the team needs to improve, put the loss in the rearview mirror, and collectively work towards a common objective.

Even though it is essential for you to take responsibility for your play, you should not accept blame for a loss.

Being a good teammate means believing in and committing to your team’s values and objectives.

Teams become successful when each team member pulls in the same direction, trusts each other to put in the work, believes in one another, and is confident in the team’s ability to achieve its goals.

Remember, you win as a team, and you lose as a team.

Cohesive teams keep fighting towards a common goal through thick and thin. 

No player is bigger than the whole. No one player is the sole reason for a win or the cause of a loss.

After a loss, championship teams assess their play, then refocus on the team goal. Fighting for a common objective keeps a team playing as a cohesive unit.


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