How does it feel when you get knocked out of an important competition?
Recently, a side I was coaching suffered that exact setback. We had failed to reach the primary goal we were working towards. It hurts. But the response to failure in this way will mould your future successes.
So how do you look it it?
One way is to say "one shining performance can upset even the best laid plans. After all, players are allowed to play well." You can put it behind you knowing there was nothing more you could have done. You solider on week to week through less competitive fixtures.
Maybe you go the other way. We have all had moments where we wake up at 3am with a cold sweat cursing that loose shot or dropped catch. You constantly look back at where you've gone wrong. You formulate a "what if" list that will only serve to infuriate you every time you recollect a missed opportunity.
One of these tends to be the default position.
But we can do better.
I'm sure you realise that moving forwards without focus, or incessantly dwelling on the past, will not produce any real long term benefits.
Moving past crushing failure
The problem is that we've already missed the goal.
Where do we aim now?
This may mean finding a similar objective that is achievable in this new world.
You could also shuffle to the left or the right by changing the type of goal you're working towards.
If the previous goal was based on winning, set them a challenge that's more process based, considering the elements that contribute to winning. Instead of aiming to win the next 5 games, how about targeting taking 40 wickets, scoring 1000 runs, or even creating 5 run outs.
In trying goals that are a little more process based, you'll find that you achieve them. The slightly shift of focus - or change in how you assess success - can divert your players attention away from previous failings.
Measure your new success
Multiple goal setting is a great way to help, combining processes with outcomes:
Over the next 5 games we're going to:
- score from 60% of the deliveries we face.
- win 60% of the games we play.
Invariably the two will work hand in hand. In striving to achieve the process based goal of minimising dot balls, you'll be well set up to meet you outcome goal of winning games.
It's sometimes forgotten, that while goals can give great focus, there are always two possible outcomes, and failure can be a bitter pill to swallow.
So remember, move fast to re-evaluate your objectives, and try to ensure that you get the most out of a losing experience.
Aim to understand it but not be consumed by it. So that next time you target a similar achievement, you're better equipped for the experience.
Editors Note: I recently experienced something that resonates with this when helping a new coach with a team of beginners new to cricket, many playing their first game.
The team fielded badly - with several overthrows and missed run out chances - and at the innings break the coach decided to berate the players. He is a passionate coach and cares deeply for the success of the side and was motivated to show the players the error of their ways so they could improve.
There is no doubt they need fielding work, but the way I heard it the coach was playing the "what if" game: Injecting regret directly into the player's minds.
Following Sam's advice, I would encourage that coach to note the failure and make it something to work on in the next training session. At the start of that session, we could set a new fielding target; like preventing overthrows or making sure someone is on the stumps at both ends every ball. Then we can work on it with a drill like this one, and tricks like these. - Ed.