Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose? | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose?

March 19, 2013 | Brian Lebo

All for One

You may think there is no difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. They sound similar, but think back to the last game you witnessed in which a team mounted a furious comeback to win. The winning team played more aggressively and took more risks to come from behind. Essentially, they played to win. The team that originally held the lead changed their focus and played cautiously, not to lose.

By the end of the game, the team playing to win caught up with and surpassed their opponents. What seemed unlikely earlier in the game became a reality: a come-from-behind victory. (See 4 Rules for Playing Your Best in Clutch Situations.)

There is a huge difference. You don't want to be on a team playing not to lose. So here are some tips for playing to win.

Maintain your competitive edge

Players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant made careers by getting their opponents down and keeping them down. You can emulate them by playing with aggressiveness, confidence and energy from start to finish. That means practicing sport-specific skills, improving strength and conditioning, following proper nutrition and getting adequate rest. All are essential.

Take calculated risks

You can't stop driving to the hoop or throwing the football if that's what your game plan calls for. Stick to your game plan, but be flexible. You can do this by becoming a student of the game and taking note of your opponent's trends and tendencies. Use this information to your advantage when the opportunity presents itself.

Defend when appropriate, but don't stop attacking

Play smart, but always continue putting pressure on your opponent. Work hard on defense to deny your opponent's progress. On offense, resist the temptation to play it safe when you have a lead.

Don't make excuses

You're going to miss shots, and you may not convert every third down play. However, be personally accountable, and don't get caught up in the "blame game." Learn from your mistakes and make necessary adjustments. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and work to improve your strengths and cure your weaknesses.

Take advantage of opportunities

Don't stop exploiting opportunities in the interest of protecting your lead. Find the "holes" in your opponent's game and use them to your advantage. If it's there, go for it.

Play the game based on where you want to be, not where you are

If you've scored 50 first-half points, try to score another 50 in the second half. Your goal should be to win every inning or period.

Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

4 Ways to Turn Mental Toughness Into Physical Toughness

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

Make Goals, Not Deals

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

3 Ways to Develop Your Football Warrior Mentality

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

4 Tips for Building Confidence

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

Tips to Be a Better Leader

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

6 Ideas to Build a More Cohesive Team

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

So You Didn't Make the Team? 5 Ways to Move On

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Prepare for Any Situation With Mental Sunscreen

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

Don't Take Your Headphones to the Gym

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

How Mentally Tough Are You?

Visualize Yourself Winning, and You're Halfway There

A Coach Describes What It

Summer Mental Training Plan for Wrestling

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

Are You Playing With a Winning Mindset?

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes