How to help your players handle loss and setbacksJul 31, 2022
Every team loses and experiences setbacks. That's simply the nature of esports and competition. This blog will discuss how you can help your players recover from losses and setbacks.
An example of a setback that we collectively experienced was COVID. It made the world stand still for almost two years and still affects us today.
Most people stopped traveling to and from work, going to gyms, cafes, cinemas, shopping malls, barbers, and public areas were shut and closed indefinitely. Business either completely stopped or drastically slowed down. Companies went bankrupt, and countless employees lost their jobs. It was quite a significant setback for many people.
This raises the question - how did you react to the setbacks and changes that COVID brought? How was your coaching, career, social, and family life affected? And how did you deal with that?
It also raises the question - how do you react when your team experiences a loss or setback? What do you think, feel, do, and say to your players when that happens? Does how you react as a coach help them or worsen things?
However you're currently reacting to these experiences, we at Next Level Esports have your back. We'll share two approaches you can use the next time your team suffers a tough loss or faces a setback. We'll also share four steps for each approach that you can use to help your players bounce back effectively.
What are the two approaches?
The two approaches are:
- Feeling – working with feelings and emotions
- Rational – working cognitively, with the mind
Let's start with the feeling approach. Loss and setback typically come hand-in-hand with strong emotional responses and feelings such as anger, guilt, shame, frustration, and sadness. These emotions can (and will) impact your players negatively if they aren't dealt with appropriately.
Here are four ways in which you can help your players to deal with their feelings and emotions:
Process the loss and social support
Give your players time and space to calm down. Don't jump straight in with feedback and tell them what to do. You want to avoid practical problem solving or trying to "get them out" of their emotions. Your players are experiencing emotions for a reason! Do not try to pull them out of their emotion (unless they are a danger to themselves or others). Let them feel it. It's the only way they'll be able to move on. If you don't help them to process the loss, they'll hold onto that emotion and carry it into future practice and competitions.
Also, encourage your players to seek social support from their teammates, family, friends, and partners. Ask them to share how they feel with people they trust.
Hone into the feelings. What are they feeling exactly?
If you can help your players to identify what they are feeling, the feeling and/or emotion will usually fade away. Emotions tend to melt away when they're focused on. That's why helping your players get precise about their feelings is a huge help. It's a form of remedy to the potent 'negative' emotions.
Activities that link to the feeling they need to have
Another way you can help your players deal with their feelings and emotions is to encourage them to do an activity linked to the feeling they need to have. For example, listening to a particular type of music, visiting a favorite area, or getting away from their usual spots. These activities will help your players connect with the feeling they need to feel and express.
Positivity and trust
Once you've helped your players share how they feel and feel their emotions, they will begin to feel more themselves again, more centered.
From this place, you can help them to reconnect with the trust that they have in themselves and to feel positive again. Do this by asking them to remember times when they felt trust and confidence in their skills and abilities and when they felt positive.
Helping your players deal with a loss or setback often requires you to work with them rationally. In other words, with their mind. You can analyze the data together to determine what went wrong and how they can improve next time.
Here are four ways that you can help your players rationally:
Accept what has happened
Talk to your players and help them realize the situation's reality. Help them to understand and accept that what's done is done and that they cannot change what happened. This acceptance of reality is a way to help your players not get stuck or hung up on a loss or setback in their minds.
Analyze what happened
This is the process of looking back objectively with your players to analyze what happened and why. Together, you gather accurate data and information without emotion or feeling. Doing this with your players will help them think clearly and not let their emotions cloud their judgment or perspective, enabling them to see what truly happened.
Find options and opportunities
Once you've analyzed and gathered the data on what happened, why it happened, why it happened, and what the actual problem was, you can help them to find options and opportunities to improve for the next time. Maybe the problem was that they didn't prepare enough, or perhaps you didn't effectively coach them. What are key takeaways from these findings, and what solutions could be there that you can implement?
Implementation and change
Now that you have accepted what has happened, analyzed it, and found options and opportunities to implement, your players are in an excellent position to implement the solutions they have found. Help them to do this by supporting them in this process with what they need or ask of you. And don't forget to go through this process yourself, too!
Putting it together
Now you've learned two fundamental approaches to help your players deal with losses and setbacks. You also have four steps for each approach that you can use immediately. You're now ready to go out there and apply these approaches to your team the next time they experience a loss or setback.
We recommend that you take some time to reflect on these approaches and apply them to yourself before applying them to your team. This will give you a feel for the process and help you to guide your players through losses and setbacks in the future.
If you want a deeper dive into this topic, including more Esports examples and a weekly Q&A with other Esports coaches, join the Esports Coach Development Program.
Every week we deliver a Masterclass for esports coaches. These Masterclasses are a part of the Esports Coach Development Program, where we cover esports topics and questions from coaches. To join the masterclass, click [here] to join the Next Level Esports Discord and just send a message in general chat or a DM to get access, everyone can join one time for free to check it out!
See you there, coach!
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