3 Steps To Regain Motivation After A Bad Game

Don't let fear and shame hold you back any longer! Learn how to regain motivation after a bad game with these 3 simple steps!

Have you ever experienced the loss of motivation due to a bad performance? When you find yourself in such a situation, it’s common to begin thinking, how can I regain my motivation?

After a bad game, it’s easy to have all motivation wiped away. You may wake up the next day feeling completely lost, with no ambition to keep progressing forward.

Finding yourself without motivation harms you in two ways: one, the psychological toll of lacking motivation results in you feeling confused, frustrated, and down on yourself.

Two, this lack of motivation will directly lead to worse performances moving forward. The little drive you have left to keep pushing after a defeat, standing back up once knocked down, will make succeeding in your next game difficult to say the least.

If this lack of motivation is not dealt with in a timely manner, you can easily find yourself in the depths of a vicious cycle. One where you perform poorly, lose motivation, which leads to another bad game, and an even lower drop in motivation.

Continuing over and over until you interfere, such a cycle will ultimately lead to the complete loss of passion within your sport.

That’s why it’s vital you don’t overlook the slightest drop in motivation after a bad performance. This is a sign of an underlying condition that is working in the background to undermine your success.

For this reason, the first place we need to turn is what causes this drop of motivation in the first place.

What Causes You To Lose Motivation

Why is it you can’t simply take a loss in stride?

How come every time you suffer a defeat, or have a bad game/practice it’s as though the whole world is crumbling around you and all motivation you have to push on escapes your grasp?

These are questions I wish I’d learned the answers to earlier on in my playing career. Like clockwork, I’d be searching for ways to regain the motivation I had the day prior after each game that didn’t go as planned.

What’s worse, my lack of motivation was not reserved only for bad games, but practices as well. Have you also experienced this?

The reason being, any situation, game or practice, that is viewed by our minds as a performance runs the risk of lowering motivation.

To understand why this occurs, there are three factors we need to examine:

Factor 1: Shame

I can’t tell you how many times I woke up the morning after a bad game chalked full of shame. For the most part, I didn’t even want to show my face due to the intense embarrassment I felt.

Have you ever experienced a feeling of shame following a performance?

For me, shame was one of the leading factors contributing to my decrease in motivation. When we are feeling ashamed of ourselves, which is really what is happening, it takes extreme resilience to get back up and keep moving forward.

Not only does it require resilience, but we must simultaneously not be concerned with the opinions of others. Shame is grounded in the thoughts of those around us. We are feeling ashamed of how we performed because of how we perceive others are judging us.

Factor 2: Negative Self-Talk

If you’re anything like me, that evil little voice in your head jumps at the sight of a bad game. Overpowering any ounce of positivity you may try to bring in, the negative dialogue eats away at your confidence.

It’s a downward spiral from there, resulting in even worse self-talk and further negative feelings towards yourself.

Finding yourself in such a depressive mood is not optimal for motivation. What happens is, the more you talk down to yourself, the worse your confidence drops, and the less motivation and desire you have to get back on your feet.

“If you’re anything like me, that evil little voice in your head jumps at the sight of a bad game. Overpowering any ounce of positivity you may try to bring in, the negative dialogue eats away at your confidence.”

Factor 3: Fear

Take negative self-talk, add a bit of shame, and what you have is fear. Fear of failing once more and having to face the terrible feelings again in the future.

Motivation means you will place yourself in another environment where you have the opportunity to fail.

As a coping mechanism, to keep yourself safe from further negative thoughts and emotions, your mind drastically decreases your motivation.

No motivation equals less chances of you failing.

How To Regain Your Motivation After A Bad Game

I would go on to guess you have no interest in allowing fear to keep you from performing in the future, am I right?

If you did, there’s little chance you would be searching for ways to regain your motivation.

So, to reclaim the motivation lost due to shame, negative self-talk, and consequently the fear that follows, what can you do?

Well, as with most things, it’s best to have a process in place. One you can go back to time and time again, because as you know, this won’t be your last bad game and likely not the last time you’re faced with low motivation as a result.

To begin, I need you to change the way you think immediately following a bad game.

Step #1: Locate One Positive

The first step is not so much about how to regain motivation but more about how to deter the negative effects that often occur after a game.

Look, if it was a bad game, I get it, the last place your mind is likely to travel is anywhere in the realm of positivity. However, if you know you struggle with a drop in motivation after such a performance, your job is to dig through all the darkness to find some light.

The reason this is so important has to do with the negative self-talk I addressed earlier. Once your internal dialogue turns negative, it’s awfully difficult to change.

To counteract this, and defend your mind from its effect, you need to deliberately latch onto something positive. By looking at a good aspect from your performance, your self-talk will have a greater challenge turning sour.

Let’s say you’re struggling with lack of motivation from a game that happened a few days ago, or even weeks, will this concept still work?

The answer is yes.

You can either think back to that game and pinpoint a positive, or just identify some positive aspect about your most recent game (if you’ve had one).

Step #2: Ask Yourself Why

There are two phases to this step.

It’s accomplished by asking yourself both of the following questions:

  • “Why am I lacking motivation?”
  • “Why do I want motivation to keep pushing on?”

Let’s first examine question one.

Why am I lacking motivation?

Why are you? Which of the three reasons I listed above is to blame for your drop in motivation following a poor performance? Perhaps it’s all three. That’s okay, because the important part is, you’re beginning to look inward.

Self-reflection is one of the most important parts of reclaiming motivation. You need to understand why the bad performance impacted you on such a psychological level.

Once you understand your why, you can move on to question two.

Why do I want motivation to keep pushing on?

Okay, so you understand what’s got you so down after a bad performance. Maybe it’s the fear of failure for example. Why not just allow that fear to get the best of you, quit your sport, and save yourself from further bad performances?

Now, I have my guesses as to why, but the point of my question is to get you thinking on a deeper level. This really goes into why you play in the first place.

Because to be honest, if you don’t have an inner drive to keep going, if there’s no underlying reason for your play, what’s the point of continually putting yourself through the miserable feelings of low motivation and the minor depressions you have after a bad game?

It’s madness to keep torturing yourself for no reason.

However, I guarantee you have a solid why, you just may need to dig deep to find it. Once you do, the why acts as a catalyst for boosting your motivation and helping you get back on track.

Step #3: Get Moving

Alright, now I know this may sound a bit strange, and you’re probably thinking, “I’m trying to get myself moving, that’s why I’m searching for ways to boost my motivation.”

I understand that, however, it’s not as linear of a process as you may believe. Yes, by focusing on the two previous steps, motivation will grow. However, that’s honestly as far as you’ll get without a little forcefulness on your part.

That’s where getting yourself moving comes into play.

If you lay idle, waiting for a big boost in motivation to get yourself back on track, you’ll sadly be waiting forever.

You need to find the courage to pull yourself back onto your feet, look fear and shame in the eyes, and get yourself moving!

Performing step two is crucial to this phase. If you are still unaware of the deeper why as to the reason you play, courage and determination to face your fears and further failures will be difficult.

But once you know this, I trust you’ll have the willpower to reignite your motivation. The beautiful part is, once you get yourself moving, more and more motivation follows.

That is, until you have another bad performance. Though, since you now have a process in place, and have seen yourself overcome it before, the drop in motivation should not come with such a fright as before.

“If you lay idle, waiting for a big boost in motivation to get yourself back on track, you’ll sadly be waiting forever.”

Final Thoughts

Little fun comes from losing motivation after a bad performance.

It’s an easy situation to find yourself in, due to the shame, negative self-talk, and fear which set in after you play poorly.

Luckily, your drop in motivation doesn’t need to last! By following a process, each time you find yourself in this situation, you emerge stronger than ever.

You first want to locate at least one positive from your performance, so your mind has a more difficult time immediately focusing on what you did wrong. Next, ask yourself why.

Why did you lose motivation in the first place, and why do you want to regain motivation to keep going?

Lastly, after adhering to the previous two steps, it’s time to get moving again. Pick yourself up, have courage, and face your fears. Walk into practice or your next performance boldly and with confidence.

That is how you regain motivation after a bad game!

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you did, please share it with others.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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