Competitive Sports: Coping with Losses and Succeeding

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Ms. Pfaff, have you ever experienced a defeat in your athlete’s life you couldn’t forgive yourself ?

I’ve actually forgiven all of defeats, even if I still remember some match balls in big tournaments. In my life I was not prepared to become a competitive athlete, so defeats didn’t blew me away. For athletes who train professionally and purposefully for years, the situation can be different.

How do such competitive athletes deal with defeats?

The way to cope with losses depends on how long you are in competitive sports. For young people, defeats often lead to a reaction like „Now more than ever“. But if you have been in sports for a long time and maybe are bit tired, a defeat can be an opportunity to withdraw from sports and give your life a new direction.

Are some athletes better prepared for defeats than others?

Not necessarily, it depends on the level you compete on. If they have been on the top-level for a long time and have lost little, defeats have become foreign to them. A good example is Roger Federer. He has raised his own and the standard of the public through his achievements. But it’s easy to forget that it is extremely challenging for him to stay at this level.