Restoring Confidence After Losing (New Video)

Win or Learn, Never Lose

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am as competitive as anyone you’ll ever meet. When I look back at my childhood, I can’t recall a time when winning was not important me. I was definitely born with a competitive streak. Whether I was playing tic-tac-toe or competing under the bright lights, I always wanted to win.

Fortunately, the early competitiveness that drove me as a young athlete hasn’t faded one bit. I’m just as competitive as a coach as I was as an athlete. The only difference is that I’ve matured and grown wiser. I still want my athletes to go out and win, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that plenty can be learned from a loss. That only happens if the loss does not kill the athlete’s confidence however.

Learn From Losing

As I discussed recently, confidence is incredibly important to an athlete’s performance. If the athlete does not believe in himself, he will never realize his full potential. Therefore, it’s obviously critical that coaches take the time to not just build their athletes physically, but also mentally.

In my last video, I discussed a few strategies that coaches can implement to boost confidence in their athletes. Below is a follow up to that video. In the follow up, I share a few suggestions for coaches to consider after an athlete suffers a loss.

As a coach, I naturally want my athletes to learn from a loss. It’s just important that the learning experience does not come at the expense of confidence. Fortunately, I’ve been successful at minimizing the damage of a loss by following the simple steps outlined in the video above.

Hopefully there are fellow athletes and coaches who can benefit from the advice.


“Learn from your mistakes, make adjustments, and go out and compete again. That’s the mark of that championship spirit.” – Randy Couture


  1. Great video! I’ve known many fighters who gave up boxing/martial arts following a loss, namely their first loss, not in sparring but competition.

    Speaking of sparring though, I wonder how often you feel fighters should spar if they don’t have a fight coming up in the near future?

    Sometimes I feel fighters are asked by their coaches to spar too often and they seem to burn themselves out (especially if the sparring sessions are tough battles) either leading up to a fight or even when not training for fight.

    The clubs in mine area seem to have their fighters work on drills for 60-90 mins and then have them spar. Sometimes I think this can be helpful since it pushes fighters to work both harder smarter in the ring and teaches them to fight when tired. However, perhaps it would be better to have fighters spar when they are relatively fresh. Rather than train and then spar, maybe sparring should be the focus of some sessions. Do you favor a certain approach?

    1. @Peter – There isn’t a single answer, as it partially depends on the level of the boxer. Furthermore, in an ideal situation, amateurs will compete on a regular basis. The best amateurs compete often. It’s difficult to remain sharp if you are inactive. With that said, sparring frequency tends to work itself out if the amateurs remain active (as they should be).

      With professionals, there’s typically more time in between bouts. Sparring won’t be as frequent or intense if/when there are extended breaks. Light work can help maintain some sharpness, but you naturally don’t want to wear the fighter out either. There’s no glory in taking too much punishment at the gym.

      As for sparring early vs. late, I prefer to have sparring done when the fighters are fresh. There are other ways to introduce fatigue (i.e. shorter rest between rounds, fresh sparring partners coming in every round, etc.).

  2. Hi Ross,

    Your work on confidence is fantastic! Thank you. Any tips on sports that play weekly for a season. How would you suggest dealing with confidence after early losses, and it is unlikely the athlete or team can register many wins this year. How do we maintain their spirit whilst we tackle lagging skill, size, or strength issues?



    1. @Az – I’d likely shift gears to focus on PRIDE (i.e. we WILL continue to compete no matter what). I’d also let them know that the odds are stacked against them (be honest). In other words, emphasize the significance of COMPETING and never giving in. Let them know that battling when the odds are stacked against them will benefit them in the long run. Almost every athlete has had to endure a losing season. Often times, that is what gets them to want to do everything in their power to avoid going through it again.

      Also be sure to highlight the positive moments (i.e. good plays, true effort, etc.). Find something that can serve as a “win” during a loss.

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