Just Lost A BJJ Competition? Here’s How To Cope

Photo by: BJJ Pix

You just attended a tournament. You spent 100 dollars to register, woke up the morning of the tournament, drove three hours, waited two hours, and then lost in the first round.  It hurts.  I know.  I’ve been there.  We’ve all been there.  If you dwell on your loss, it can cripple you.  If you ignore it, it will happen again.  How do you cope with losing so that it doesn’t become a bigger issue?  Here are five ways I’ve found to cope with losing so that I can get back on the path to victory.

  1. Give credit where it’s due.  This goes both ways.  You should acknowledge your errors, but at the same time use what you did right to help yourself not get into a funk.  Did you do nothing right at all?  Well at least you showed up when others didn’t.  Similarly, acknowledge that your opponent probably put in as much if not more work than you did.  No one should like to lose, but at the very least consider the fact that you’re in a binary situation in which one person will win and one will lose.  Cut yourself some slack.
  2. Remember what it feels like.  For me, a major motivation to win is knowing what it feels like to lose.  My losses drive me forward.  If I am physically able to I train the morning after losing, and am a bit of a jerk for a few days. Recognize that those days you took off because you didn’t feel like training are why you lost.  Recognize that that bag of chips you ate or that ice cream sundae you ordered that you didn’t need contributed to you losing.  I’m not saying that everyone who competes needs to be a professional athlete, but the more you commit yourself to winning the more you’ll enjoy victory.
  3. It’s just jiu-jitsu.  We do this for fun.  This is a hobby.  Losing isn’t the end of the world, and victory doesn’t really mean much either.  In the moment in competition, you should absolutely treat it as a life or death struggle where you must win.  However, after it’s all said and done, consider that the five-dollar medal you would have gotten had you won wouldn’t have bettered your life, and that your family, friends, and teammates aren’t going to look down on you just because you lost a grappling contest.  Don’t let the fact that you didn’t win that five-dollar medal cost you your mental well-being.
  4. Know where you failed.  Many learn more from failure than from success.  Take the moments where you fell short in competition and make those the moments you repeat over and over again in training until you no longer fall short, but rather succeed.  Competition is a harsh lit mirror that will show you a complete picture of your weaknesses. Use that mirror to see that which you didn’t see otherwise.
  5. Stick with it.  If you want to compete, you must compete often.  Don’t allow failure to break you mentally.  A few months back I did a competition.  I faced one opponent in that competition four times.  The first time we faced off was in the gi final and he beat me.  The second time was part of a best two of three bracket for no-gi; he beat me that second time as well.  The third and fourth time I submitted him.  Had I allowed my failure in the first two rounds to defeat me, I wouldn’t have won that no-gi gold medal, but because I approached each round as a brand new opportunity to win, I was able to prevail.  Stick with it.  Don’t give up.

These are five ways I’ve found to cope with losing.  For those of you out there who have overcome adversity and have coped with loss to come back stronger to win, what did you do?


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