February 11, 2019 - Wanting to Win Versus Hating to Lose

These are both great incentives in practice. Some want to win so badly that they'll practice, hour after hour, to achieve their goals. Others hate losing so much that they'll use it as incentive to train forever to avoid it. A little of both often helps.

The problem comes when you have to play a match - and that's when hating to lose becomes a problem. For some, it might help in practice, but in a match it's a quick way to choke away as you nervously play to avoid losing rather than playing to win. If you play to win, then you'll focus on doing what's needed to win, and you'll be so focused on that that you won't even think about losing, and so won't get nervous or choke.

Where are you on the "Want to Win" vs. "Hate to Lose" spectrum? Here's a simple test. If, at the instant that you lose a close match, you are surprised, that means you were focused on winning, which is what you want. If, however, you are not surprised at that instant, you were focused on not losing, and that very type of thinking might be what brought on the loss.