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Sports Expert Q&A: What is the best way to bounce back from a mistake during a game? Part 2


Troy Moles, M.S., University of North Texas Center for Sport Psychology and Performance Excellence RA

Whenever you make a mistake, it is important to address it and learn from the experience without dwelling on it. If you make a mistake during a game and still need to perform (e.g., clock’s still running or game is not over), acknowledge the mistake and your feelings regarding it, and give yourself permission to address it fully after the game.

In the meantime, create self-talk that focuses on the task at hand (e.g., keep the feet moving, drive to the basket, keep your eye on the ball, etc.) to help maintain your focus, and every time you find yourself going back to your mistake, kindly(keyword here… this isn’t the time to be critical on yourself) direct your attention to the task at hand.

After the game, spend no more than 15 minutes analyzing your mistake and sharing about the experience with coaches or teammates if necessary. Discover what you learned from the mistake, and take whatever you can from it in order to make you better in the future. Remember, mistakes are a necessary part of the process to success.

Afterwards, throw away the mistake and then spend time thinking about what you did well at during the game. Although, the one mistake might seem like a huge deal in the moment, there are other positive aspects of your performance in that game that also define you and are worthy of your attention as well.​

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