3 Tips For Handling In-Game Mistakes

How do you handle mistakes when they happen in the game? 

Do you dwell on them, sometimes impacting your focus and energy?

Do they compound, causing a spiral? 

Most are happy when their team is winning. When things are going well, it is easier to be energetic and locked in. But the consistency of performance requires emotional stability, too.

No matter how good you are or how often you win, you will face challenges along the way. How you handle and respond to those challenges determines your consistency. 

These three tips are simple ways to think about how to handle in-game mistakes.

  • Stay Present

  • Give complete focus and effort to the current play as many times as possible.

    Through consistent meditation practice, you can hone the skill of letting thoughts come and go. Find the gap after each exhale. Count your breath. Repeat a mantra like Steph Curry’s famous “Lock in.”

    You can’t win a game in the first quarter, you can’t make up a lead with one heroic play, and you can’t take two breaths at once.

    What happened in the play before is gone. In a basketball game or any other competition, the best approach is possession by possession — breath by breath.

    When you are on offense, stay focused on the goal of being the best possible player for your team. Stay present during the transition from offense to defense, and then shift your focus to that singular defensive possession.

    Staying present in each possession will eliminate a negative spiral. 

    It will also improve your play. 

  • Trust Your Team

  • A favorable aspect of a team sport is that you do not have to do it all on your own.  You aren’t solely responsible for the outcome. Share the burden with your teammates and your coaches. 

    They are there to pick you up when you fall down. If you have a bad game, your teammates can pick up the slack. You will do the same for your teammate when given a chance.

    You can set an example with your behavior and your reactions. Will you blame something or someone else for your mistake? Or will you double down on your effort and focus? Your teammates and coaches will be watching.

    So if you make a mistake, trust that your teammates will support you. 

    Give a high-five to someone, have good body language, and clap your hands. You can always be a positive force for the team.

  • Seeking Challenges Mentality

  • Sports give us a chance to compete and improve ourselves. Most athletes love a challenge. Seeking, rather than avoiding challenges, is an essential mentality for overcoming mistakes.

    Your thoughts are important. They are the seeds you plant in your mind. Whatever you plant and tend to will grow.

    Practice planting the right thoughts by living your life and working on your craft the right way. Bring positive energy to your family and friends. Be enthusiastic and grateful. It will make it easier to allow positive thoughts to flow during a stressful spot in a game. 

    The law of attraction is that we become what we think about. If you prepare for games with the mindset of giving your best effort and focus, then the ups and downs of the game (or life) won’t be able to knock you off your game.

    When negative thoughts arise, they will fuel the flywheel of feedback. You become aware of the thought, remind yourself of your purpose and what you control, and execute those things.

    Embrace challenges. They will make you stronger. 

    Staying present, trusting your team, and seeking challenges will prepare you for battle.