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How to Bounce Back After Losing a Match

In the May Newsletter I talked about slumps and how to get past them, as pros and amateurs alike in ALL sports experience periods when they don’t reach their usual performances. Athletes who know how to deal with them return back to excellent form just like Rocky, Paola, Taylor and Sharon.

Returning to peak form comes from lots of hard work in every aspect of the Sports Racquetball Triangle. It is not by accident Rocky has been the #2 IRT Player, Paola has been the #1 WPRO Player for several years, and Taylor and Sharon are marching up the pro ranks.

In this Newsletter, I want to talk about how to come back from a devastating loss of a match. Make it a learning experience by asking yourself, did I play well—or poorly–and lose? The key is to benefit from your mistakes and remember your successes. Winning and losing are ultimately out of your control, so relax and learn from the match and move on. Let go of all the negative thoughts, and remember your great shots. Erase your mistakes from your mind and visualize the shot you know you should have hit—see it in your mind with the correction made. Too often, athletes do not take the time to redo their mistakes in order to turn them into positives. We learn from winning, but it is in losing that we feel enough pain to change.

Consider the many great athletes who were able to come back from a major loss by erasing mistakes on the court:

Djokovic at the 2011 US Open lost to Federer, but came back in the 2012 French Open and beat him.

Sharapova lost to Kvitova in the 2012 Australian Open, yet beat her in the 2012 French Open

Longoria lost to Rhonda in the 2010 US Open and was # 2 ranking on the WPRO, but came back to beat Rhonda in the 2011 US Open, finishing #1 on the WPROWITHOUT losing a match to Rhonda in the 2011/2012 season.

Rocky lost to the #7 seed Chris Crowther at Michigan’s 2011 Red Swain Shootout IRT Pro Stop and then bounced back to beat Chris the following weekend at the 2011 US Open.

Let’s examine what tools Rocky and Paola use to bounce back after losing a match by taking a closer look at all 3 sides of The Sports Racquetball Triangle: Conditioning, Mental, and Physical Skills

Left Side of the Triangle



You need to analyze why you lost the match and if conditioning was a factor, you need to make the particular adjustments to either get tougher and train harder or, if you over trained, lay off to rest and then come back slowly.

Once you can pinpoint the problem you can go to the gym and workout starting out slowly and building back up using the techniques in my book, Championship Racquetball, (Chapter 10).


Eating Properly and Maintaining Peak Energy Level

Our Nutritional Expert, Diana McNab, informs us that losing a match can zap your energy, which is what you need on the court to perform at your best. All muscles, including the ones most used while playing racquetball, need glycogen in order to perform at their optimal level. Glycogen is a muscle energy source that comes from fruits, vegetables and whole grains or complex carbohydrates. Your brain needs glucose or blood sugar and your entire metabolism needs water. Racquetball muscles also need amino acides found in protein to repair your tissues and cells.

Right Side of the Triangle

Mental Skills

McNab also informs us that if you are in trying to bounce back from losing a match, you must have a very positive attitude. The human mind is duality based, which means things show up as good or bad, positive or negative, happy or sad. The ego does not like to live in any grey areas. The ego loves to be right and hates to be wrong. But we, as human beings are 100% in control of the thoughts and emotions that we choose to focus on, so whatever we pay attention to and focus on grows. If you are filled with negativity, doubt and fear that is what will grow in your mind. If you focus on being positive, happy and fearless, then that is what you will create. All of this is up to you. Everyday thoughts are random, but the ones we keep thinking about become our truth. So ask yourself if you want to be positive or negative and a winner or a loser? The choice is YOURS.

Therefore, a POSITIVE ATTITUDE is a CHOICE and you are the only one in control of your mind. To take it even deeper, your body loves to respond to the energy and feelings that come from your mind, so if you feel positive and happy and excited about your match your body responds by being loose, relaxed and free of anxiety. This is how you get into “The Zone!” You see the end result that you want and then you act out the winning scenario.

Playing with a positive attitude focuses on the moment and corrects all the past mistakes and erases them. Use the techniques in my book, Championship Racquetball(Chapter 9).

Base of the Triangle

Physical Skills

As I said earlier, you need to analyze why you lost the match. Was it the serve, return of serve, a particular shot, or what? Once you’ve identified the problem, then do the things necessary to regain your consistency level such as drilling alone, drilling with a partner, playing controlled games (working on specific shots/serves/return of serves/etc.) and then competing—playing games to win. There arevarious ways to drill and practice to improve in my book, “Championship Racquetball” (Chapter 8).

Rocky and Paola’s “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.

Next issue I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of since you will have the tools to make it a reality.

For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, “Championship Racquetball,” which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee, Racquetball Woman of the Year 2009, Coach #2 IRT Pro Player, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s Pro Player, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Intercollegiate Champion, & #16 IRT Pro Player, Taylor Knoth; Coach Intercollegiate Champion & #19 WPRO Pro Player, Sharon Jackson; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.  International Racquetball Tour.