Everyone suffers a loss at some point.
Whether by a single point, pin, or technicality – a loss is a loss. As we get closer and closer to the postseason, the expectation to perform well and produce results only gets higher. We’ve all taken a few in our lifetime, but are all losses equal? More importantly for wrestlers in our sport: How can you lose with integrity and learn from those losses?
Let’s dive into this question and more.
Integrity is often defined as the quality of having strong moral principles or moral uprightness. What does that look like for Christian athletes to maintain integrity and how do we keep it under trial? Here are a few practical ways to learn from losses and grow.
Learning from the Loss – Asking “why did I lose?”
Maybe things didn’t go your way in a match you were supposed to win. You were up…until you weren’t.
It happens, but why?
Was it a physical mistake or a mental one? Did you lose focus at a critical point? Was your cardio inadequate? Did I compromise in a difficult situation? From physical health to mental health, there’s a lot to be addressed.
Asking “why” and getting to the nuts-and-bolts of scenario can be what decides the next match and jumpstarts your next phase of growth. Figuring out what the root of the loss was involves paying attention to feedback from your coaches, listening to your body and mind, and analysing the match on film. What you’ll find is that in life you can often use the same techniques to figure out why something isn’t going your way.
Because they often hurt and losses can often be opportunities for even bigger growth and adaptation than wins
Key Point: Find the reason you lost and work at it. If you don’t know what it is, talk to your coaches.
Excuses Vs Accepting – “It was a bad call”
Let’s get this one out of the way because it might be the biggest barrier to learning from losses: it wasn’t the referee. One more time: it wasn’t the referee. While they aren’t perfect, seldom is the tide of match altered by the official, so let’s not use that as a crutch.
Even if it was a bad call, you cannot leave the match in the hands of the referee, and even more important it isn’t your job to make the calls, it’s your job to wrestle the match. In the bible we see Adam blame Eve for an action that he took (eating the forbidden fruit Genesis 3:12) and it does absolutely nothing to change his life.
The sooner you stop blaming the ref, your shoes, or something else the sooner you can grow from your losses.
Key Point: Accept responsibility for what happened so you can make adjustments for the future.
Keep emotions in check.
Keeping your emotions in check is pivotal because when we are emotional we are prone to saying things we didn’t mean or doing things we’ll regret later. In wrestling that might be a team point and embarrassing yourself, but in life it might be much more severe.
Now this doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be upset, because you are. Wrestling is a passionate and painful sport, and much like faith we sometimes have hardships and adversity. You can cry, scream, and be angry if you need to, but do it away from the crowd and after you shake your opponents hand. Not doing those things is like losing twice: once to your opponent and again to your pride.
Remember that you represent your team, and outside of wrestling you represent your faith and your family. So when you act out emotionally, good or bad, it reflects on the brand you represent.
Key Point: Deal with your emotions away from the crowd because your actions in public reflect your team, family, and faith.
Give your everything – Hold Nothing Back
Samurai warriors would often prepare for battle by remembering a certain proverb that went something like “go into battle prepared to die and you’ll likely live, go in hoping to live and you’ll likely die”
While wrestling is a different kind of battle (less swords), it is a battle nonetheless, and when you go into any battle distracted, ridgid, or uptight you give the enemy an inch. Verse Matt 16:25 parallels this with Jesus saying “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
That doesn’t mean you go into a match ready to lose, but you go in willing to give everything. It is the difference between wrestling to win and wrestling to not lose.
When you hold back because of fear, tiredness, preservation (of a streak) or any other reason, you only take yourself further out of the game. When you wrestle free and open up, you won’t be ashamed of the results: if you put your all into a match it and and don’t come out on top, you have nothing to hold your head down about. You can move forward and learn the lesson you need to.
Your teammates, coaches, and other supports see that and recognize it. If you hold back in your wrestling you’ll sit in regret. Learn from the mistakes or build more in the tank. DO it unto the Lord
Key Point: If you give your everything you’ll find yourself able to walk away with dignity.
Show thanks – In all thy ways acknowledge Him
This one is right to the point: it is a privilege to have another day of life, and an even bigger one to be healthy enough to compete in a sport as rigorous as wrestling. In a brutal sport that can take years to build expertise, skill and stamina in but only moments to come crashing down due to injury, disease, and the other uncertainties of life, remember that every match — every single one — is a gift. Job, a fair and just man who was subjected to all kinds of trials in his life, chose to remain faithful to God, and even when he struggled still kept his integrity because he trusted God through the storm of his life, and gave thanks always.
Key Point: Give thanks in all things, even the bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Don’t Check Out – Support your teammates
So the match didn’t go your way. You gave it everything you had, fought hard, but it still stings. You shake your opponents hand, see your coach, and then sprint to the locker room to deal with a heartbreak of a loss. Deal with those emotions, and process them well, and thank the Lord for one more chance to compete.
But if you have teammates still competing, you aren’t quite done yet. Cheer on your teammates.
If it is a duel, cheer every match, and if it is a tournament, get up and get back in.
Key Point: Set an example that losses won’t stop what matters, and what matters is the team.
Although we always want to aim for victory, losses can be both setbacks and opportunities for growth, change, and adaption. Train yourself to see an opportunity regardless of the results, and resolve to give Glory to God no matter the result.
Are there other ways to lose without losing integrity? Do you have any suggestions?Drop your comments
And if you thought this was good, share this with a teammate or coach!