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Developing a Mistake Ritual

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Mistakes in sports are inevitable. Athletes at all levels make mistakes, from youth to professional players. What makes good athletes stand out is how they deal with those mistakes. A player who can't bounce back from mistakes will not be capable of refocusing on the most important play - the next play.

Athletes must train to move on from these mistakes quickly and often. At Positive Coaching Alliance, we recommend players and teams adopt a mistake ritual. This can take on many forms. Jim Thompson's (@JimThompson18) book Elevating Your Game - Becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor® describes several mistake rituals. Coaches, players and teams should pick whatever works for them. For example, many lacrosse teams raise their sticks up in the air when the opposing team scores a goal. This symbolizes to the whole team that we recognize something didn't go our way, but we are moving past it and refocusing on what's next.

No matter what the mistake ritual entails, it's important for players and teams to develop a strategy for overcoming mistakes in sport. Ultimately, players and teams that are comfortable recovering from mistakes, will also be able to develop new skills more readily because they won't have a fear of mistakes. This approach to mistakes in sports is paramount for success on the field, and we recommend players take the time to self-assess their current and future approaches to mistake recovery.

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