Those were the days when I did not care about sports
Now I follow tennis players, especially Romanian ones of course, every time there is an important tournament to see their evolution and growth. I root for them and it makes me happy when they win and sad when they lose. But although there is great satisfaction in seeing one of your favorites win and also bittersweet to watch him/her lose, you can also learn a lot from your favorite players.
Simona Halep, the highest ranked Romanian player currently at number 5 in the world, won last weekend a big trophy in Madrid. This great week came after a so-so period for her, when she went down to number 7 from being number 2 in the world. She has also been highly criticized by many of her Romanian “fans” either for her lack of form, stubbornness or for not being focused enough on her game. People expressed their high expectations of her, she felt the pressure and it all culminated with a few injuries that kept her from training fully and also kept her away from results she is capable of.
Players mention it from time to time, but rarely get into detail, about how difficult and frustrating it can be to not be able to properly train because of injuries or some illness and how, then, results in matches are not satisfying. As I mentioned before, for us fans, a loss by our favorite player can be a bit of a downer, but we quickly forget it because we have to move on with our lives, but for players it can be really difficult. Especially, if for a longer period of time bigger wins against top players seem harder to grasp and matches get harder to conclude once they have match point.
I got onto this subject of losing because it seemed like a theme of last days, stumbling over things like a quote or a statement from another Romanian player talking about losses. Sorana Cîrstea, the one I was referring previously, went from being on a 20 something rank to being in top 200 because of injuries. For the last few months she fought her way back to top 100 getting a big break just last week in Madrid where Simona Halep won the title. This is what she said in an interview:
“For example, after a loss, I wasn’t able to handle it. Those were very tough; I would lose and two-three days later, I was still sad about that match and suddenly the next tournament was coming and I wasn’t ready. It was different, but it’s about maturing and that’s a tough side that people don’t see. […] People don’t teach you how to handle losses.”
Quote taken from here: INTERVIEW
This sort of thing hits close to home for many of us. I mean, when things go well and as planned it all feels comfortable. But things turn nasty when a loss rises its head or a failure for that matter. I mean, it is ok and normal to be sad in such a situation, but sometimes things like that can affect us a bit too much (not referring here to extreme situations like the death of a loved one or situations like a serious illness). I think few of us are actually taught how to manage losses or failures. Even more, we kind of learn to fear them and try the hardest to avoid them. Feel free to contradict me.
Final thoughts (Bear with me, please!)
As we grow older and hopefully wiser, we eventually start learning how to cope with the bad and even see the lessons available. More than anything, this kind of situations will lead to introspection and to a realization that they mustn’t be feared, at least not for the reasons we might think. I mean yes, they are pretty rough, but that’s when we tend to learn more about ourselves. Because that’s when we are tested, we are forced out of our comfort zones and, if handled optimally, proper coping skills can be formed to use in the future.
Thinking about it you realize how important that lesson is: that failure and both loss are a given in life, you’re going to go through one or the other at one point and you’d better be aware and learn not to fear them as soon as possible. In the road toward success you will fail probably multiple times, but the idea is you will finally prevail after hard work.
Going back to tennis now and to reconnect it with the theme of loss and failure, it is a very good example of how things like these work. I am going to use Simona again as an example because of what many call her “comeback”: winning a big title after months of struggling. You can rarely get a glimpse into what happens with the tennis players mentally or psychologically-wise, but the great ones don’t get stuck. They get back on the court for the training, for the grind. Because they know that if they work hard enough, and are consistent and healthy, results will eventually follow. That’s exactly what happened to both Simona and Sorana. Results started to come. If players like these don’t motivate you to keep going I don’t know what will.
Ok, you might not be such a tennis fan like I am, but there must be lots of examples in other fields you might follow. I used tennis as an example because: 1. I am obviously biased and 2. I think it is a very clear, straight forward example of how results don’t come over night. We don’t get to see all the hard work tennis players do, but I was lucky to witness some of their training sessions on court and I tell you they work their bottoms off trying, over and over, shots or techniques they need to improve. It’s not as glamorous as when they actually win titles, but you see what is needed to get spectacular shots and wins that people see, cheer and applaud being delighted by what their favorite players can do.
Both losses and wins are part of the game. Just remember that.
Here you have a quote from a Nike store (I think) somewhere, also on theme, that I stumbled upon today somewhere on the Internet and was a further push to write this article: